Midsummer Nights' Zucchini Fries

The subtle flavor and creamy white flesh of summer squash is a perfect addition to any warm weather meal especially on the longest day of the year. Summer squashes which include zucchini come in many different varieties each with a distinct shape, color, size and flavor. Regardless of variety, all parts of summer squash are edible, including the flesh, seeds, skin and even their flowers.

Recent research studies have underscored just how fantastically healthy summer squash is. While it may not be as rich in the more widely-publicized antioxidants like beta-carotene, summer squashes are a very strong source of other key antioxidant nutrients including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Since the outer skin of the squash is particularly antioxidant-rich, it's worth leaving the skin intact.

Summer squashes are considered to be starchy vegetables, but while about 45-50% of the total calories in squashes come from starch-like polysaccharides, the unique polysaccharide composition in summer squash has been linked in studies to protection against diabetes and better regulation of insulin.

Another benefit of summer squash is how easy they are to grow and how singularly productive their plants can be. And, what better way to celebrate the Summer Solstice (from the Latin for sun [sol] and standing still [sistere]) than with the delicious “fruits” (yes, technically they are vegetables) of Summer.

Zucchini Frite
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Wash the squash before cutting. Trim the ends and halve the zucchini lengthwise, then cut into 1/8-inch-wide slices and cut slices lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips. Degorge the squash by tossing with salt in a large medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse well and dry the squash strips thoroughly.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Mix flour and cornstarch together in a mixing bowl and toss zucchini to coat. Add coated squash to the heated oil and fry, turning occasionally with a slotted spoon, until zucchini is golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the zucchini fries to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.