Italian for”little gourd”, zucchini have become as common a staple to the North American household as carrots or corn. Especially loved by anglers for their simple growing demands and their abundant harvest, zucchini are a versatile food that’s good for your waistline, center, and taste buds!
Members of the Cucurbitaceae family (like other squash), zucchini is typically long and cylindrical and has a thin freckled skin, similar to a cucumber. But, fruit from this member of the Italian marrow squash can also be found in around and other odd shapes.
Zucchini are a mandatory component for creating the dish ratatouille. They’re perfect when combined with butter, oil, or frying. Their flavour can be moderate, so zucchini often needs a little boost in flavor by adding spices like garlic, thyme, or rosemary, or simply by being paired with other veggies. One of our favourite dishes simply combines diced zucchini with corn, red peppers, onions, and jalapenos, tossed with a bit of our poultry and pork rub and oil, then roasted until caramelized.
The color of zucchini varies from yellow to near black to lighter shades of green, some with stripes and others without. Many varieties exhibit various degrees of speckling, and others have ridges resembling a cucumber. While found in their dark green form in several market stalls, do not be surprised to find them called”grisette” (grey) in Provence, or”Aurore” or”Reine-des-Noires” depending on their colour of green. Along with being named by their colour, they may be referred to by their regional name, such as courgette, summer squash, or marrow squash.
Full of carotene, pectin, Vitamins A and B, zucchini also provides heart healthy fiber, folic acid, potassium, and magnesium, with exceptionally low levels of sodium and fat.
This is also the stage in the season where its flavor is at its peak. Zucchini tastes best when young, small, and heavy for its size. Look for business zucchini which is regular in shape without blemishes or yellowish patches, and with a tight, shiny skin. Smaller zucchini are preferable, since as they get larger their flesh becomes stringy, tough, and dull, and the amount of seeds within increases.
Zucchini gets the best shelf life when kept in a dark, cool location. Kept dry in a plastic bag, zucchini should last at least one week in the refrigerator. Whole or sliced zucchini don’t take well to freezing because of their high water content. This is fine for when you wish to use zucchini in baked software such as zucchini bread.
Zucchini can be ready in many different ways, making it a excellent vegetable for use in virtually any dish. . .few things are less appetizing than overcooked zucchini, which becomes mushy, limp and at times bitter.
Steaming: Pour steamed zucchini to a casserole or nibble on individual slices for a healthy snack.
It takes less than 10 minutes. Don’t forget to wash and slice off the ends first.
Frying: Make a crispy appetizer or party thing by dipping unpeeled slices in an egg wash and breadcrumbs, then fry in hot vegetable oil.
A traditional thing that’s made a comeback on pricey dinner menus is fried zucchini flowers. Baby zucchini flowers are usually stuffed with some type of savory filling, dipped in an egg and flour mixture, and either deep fried in oil or placed on a griddle and flipped like pancakes.
For a simple side-dish full of flavor, simply drizzle slices of zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 350º oven until tender (length of time depends on thickness of slices). You can also substitute zucchini in your banana bread or pumpkin bread recipe to produce the classic zucchini bread – a real treat that even your children will love.
Grilling: If you find yourself facing a large size zucchini, you do not necessarily have to throw it away. Slice into 1/2 – 3/4 inch rounds, drizzle with olive oil, season with your favorite dry rub, and toss them on the grill for around 8 – 10 minutes. Grilled, seasoned zucchini adds a whole new dimension of flavor to your sandwiches, lasagna, pasta sauces, pizza toppings, or casseroles.