This veggie may resemble a cucumber, but it is actually a member of the squash family.
Zucchini are in fact baby squash. Here are some tips for picking, cooking and eating this vegetable taking full advantage of its delicate taste.
They are green like a cucumber, but they come in the yellow variety as well. Zucchini are great stir fried with onions or steamed with a complement of other vegetables. If picked when they are about 3 inches long and cooked at once, they have delicious, very special flavor missing in the fully grown marrow. This flavor disappears if the zucchini has been picked more than 2 hours before. It pays to grow zucchini in your kitchen garden.
Choosing perfect zucchini
Pick your zucchini wisely. They are all green, but a good zucchini is heavy. Now it may not always be long like a cucumber but it should be heavy like one. Depending on the farmer, some are smaller than others. Hold them in your hand and compare with others before choosing the ones you will buy. Select vegetables with a glossy, smooth skin. Reject those with soft spots or bruised.
Perfect for summer time
Zucchini is a popular vegetable in the summer. The taste is light and all you need to cook them is a bit of olive oil in a wok or large skillet and some salt and pepper to taste. I like to julienne or matchstick my zucchini, but others may want to slice it into nice round pieces. It is great as a starting veggie for kids because it doesn't have an overpowering taste.
Zucchini flowers are decorative and edible. They are delicious stuffed with a ground meat filling and braised, or coated in batter and fried.
Most people who have a taste for this vegetable may not have any zucchini left over after picking their entire crop from the garden because it is such a healthy veggie and good with so many varieties of dishes.
Zucchini does well in the refrigerator at a modest temperature. Don't wait too long to use it or it will become mushy to the touch. It may look good through the clear veggie tray but when the back side is covered in white fuzz it's time to get rid of it. Zucchini is not a vegetable that stands up to freezing very well. If you must freeze it, blanch it first.
Preparation and Cooking
Zucchini can be used as a side vegetable or as a main course if it is served stuffed - there are various delicious savory fillings. They may be served in salads, braised or coated in batter and fried.
Pickled Zucchini - You can pickle zucchini along with other veggies like peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mix of flavors will enhance any meal you prepare during the fall and winter months. Zucchini can be added to soup stock and frozen for a later time.
Zucchini Bread - Zucchini is even good as a specialty bread ingredient. I never thought a vegetable would be good in bread, but zucchini bread is really good. You can't even taste the zucchini. The taste is sweet and similar to banana bread without the walnuts. Bake a few loaves and freeze them.
Zucchini has a very high amount of water in it naturally. Therefore, it doesn't take long to cook. Letting it sit too long over heat will shrivel it up and doesn't make it very tasty.
Herbs and spices to use with zucchini - basil, chervil, chives, dill, fines herbes, ginger, mace, nutmeg, marjoram, oregano, paprika, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme.
Herbs and spices for stuffing - basil, bay leaf, chives, ground coriander, cumin, fines herbes, ginger, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme.
A serving is 1 cup (124g) chopped zucchini - 20 calories.
Zucchini contain mostly water - only cucumbers contain more water - and releases the liquid when cooked. It does contain some minerals and vitamins, especially when the skin is eaten. If cooked with the skin, zucchini is a good source of vitamin A and a very good source of fiber, vitamins C, K, B2, B6, Folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese. It is fat free and low in sodium and cholesterol free.
1 lb = about 500g = 2 medium sized zucchini = 3 cups
There are many zucchini varieties. If you don't have one of them at hand, substitute zucchini with the same amount of:
- summer squash, although the skin is yellow in color
- pattypan squash that may have yellow or green skin
- bottle gourd
Marrow squash is nothing other than adult zucchini and can be prepared in the same ways, but it will need longer cooking.
Zucchini - baby marrow, baby squash, courgette.
cucurbita pepo (cucurbitaceae)
Zucchini blossoms are edible.