Eat Fresh

Star Ingredient of the Season: Zucchini

It's a fruit... It's a vegetable... It's a flower? This week's star ingredient wins us over with its versatility and nutrition value.

By Megha Tejpal March 30, 2015

Though most often enjoyed in savory dishes, zucchini is actually a fruit.

Image: Shutterstock

The spring months are officially upon us, and as the weather warms up we can't help but notice all of the rich produce available at markets and restaurants all over Houston. The abundance of locally sourced spring fruits and vegetables gives restaurants the opportunity to change up their menus and offer new dishes using high quality ingredients. As we see an increase in the popularity of farm-to-table options, it is important to take a look at the variety of fruits and vegetables available to us and which are the star ingredients to look for this season.

The Star of the Season: Zucchini

Though most often enjoyed in savory dishes, zucchini is actually a fruit (file it along with tomatoes, cucumbers and the ever-curious avocado). If you are lucky enough to find one in full bloom at a farmer's market, you will notice that zucchini comes from a flower—an edible flower at that! Extremely low in calories, while high in potassium and Vitamin C, zucchini is served as a vegetable and is quite popular in entrees, pastas, sides and even sweet baked goods like zucchini bread! Zucchini, or summer squash as it is many times called, tends to grow in the warmer months making it widely available in Texas during the spring and summer seasons.

Zucchini salad with smoked salmon at BCN.

Image: Megha Tejpal

In a Starring Role at: BCN Taste & Tradition

BCN Taste & Tradition
4210 Roseland St.

BCN: the airport code of one of Spain's most enchanting cities, and now a sosphisticated Houston restaurant featuring Spanish cuisine. BCN Taste & Tradition is in a class by itself, housed in a transformed two-story, early-1900s home in Montrose where bright white walls and white table cloths allow the colorful dishes to take center stage. From the deeply intimate bar and cozy dining room to the winding staircase leading to a second floor, the restaurant is charming and unique.

While the extensive menu at BCN is made up of traditional Spanish dishes and contemporary Catalonian cuisine, it is the high quality of the meats and produce upon which the restaurant prides itself. It was at BCN that I discovered the zucchini dish of my dreams, one so wildly adventurous that it no doubt zips past all the others as zucchini champ of the week: shaved zucchini salad with smoked salmon, creamy yogurt, roasted cashews and lemon oil. Beyond anything else, the stunning contrast of colors in the salad is worth mentioning as the layers leap off the plate. The bold flavor of the smoked salmon paired with the subtle taste and texture of the zucchini is a match made in heaven. The healthy nutritional component is the "icing on the cake" for lack of a better term. This striking salad utilizes fresh lemon oil, dollops of yogurt and crunchy cashews as toppers as opposed to heavier alternatives. Beautifully plated and best of all guilt-free, BCN's tender zucchini salad is a spring-time must!

Spring is in full swing in Houston—the weather is heating up and the fresh, seasonal produce is making its way onto the ever-changing restaurant menus. Stay tuned every week to hear more about what's fresh right now and the best places to enjoy the bounty of the season.


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