A Side Dish that Deserves the Spotlight

Great side dishes can turn a mundane meal into a marvelous treat. This savory combination of squash and potatoes is a case in point. Early summer, when local farmers’ markets begin to bloom with regional produce, is a great time to avail yourself of fresh vegetables bursting with flavor, including zucchini and potatoes.

Integral to this recipe is garlic, which, of course, is fundamental to many much-loved dishes. Throughout history, potent magical powers have been attributed to the humble bulb – everything from warding off mosquitoes and vampires to the ability to cure disease.

Its flavor can range from nutty and buttery to pungent, depending on how it is cut and how long it is cooked. In general, the finer the chop, the stronger the taste. Crushed garlic has the strongest taste of all, and garlic flavor is at its most potent when eaten raw. Cooking mellows its flavor considerably; long roasting lends it a delectably sweet character.

Remember that garlic cloves come in a wide variety of sizes, so the numbers given in any recipe are a rough guide only. For those who are accustomed to cooking with garlic, you will probably find yourselves using more than stated in the recipe.

It has only been in the last half century that zucchini has become highly recognizable in the U.S. Prior to that, it was often referred to as green Italian squash. As home gardeners discovered its versatility over time, it became a staple crop for them, like tomatoes or cucumbers. An abundance of recipes for zucchini breads also emerged, further expanding its popularity. The inhabitants of Central and South America, however, have been eating zucchini for thousands of years. A member of the cucumber and melon family, the name comes from zucchino, which is Italian for small squash.

Although both zucchini and potatoes are popular individually, combining them is less common. When paired, the marriage is both satisfying and nutritious. Moreover, the cooking method ensures that they become soft and brown and infused with the flavor of garlic, oregano and tomatoes. So try this dish to welcome the beginning of summer, and the prelude to a long summer of fresh garden produce.

Sauteed Zucchini and Potatoes - Makes 4 servings

1 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

1 tsp. dried oregano

3 Tbsp. olive oil

3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

2 small potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 fresh tomatoes (1 cup of canned, drained, may be substituted)

Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste

Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Sauté onion, garlic, parsley and oregano in skillet with oil over high heat. Make sure to caramelize the onions and garlic, being careful not to burn them.

Add zucchini and potatoes and reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally and cook for about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add tomatoes, cover, and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes more. The zucchini and potatoes will become soft and brown.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Per serving: 210 calories, 11 g total fat ( 2 g saturated fat), 27 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 25 mg sodium.

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $86 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Article Posted: May 18, 2009

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