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Know Your Food: Zucchini
Know Your Food: Zucchini

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Know Your Food: Zucchini

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Known as courgette to the British and Zucchini to Americans, contrary to the cucurbit family’s reputation, where there are so many vegetable variations, Zucchini is not a vegetable but a fruit.

There are nearly 100 species and more than 800 varieties in the cucurbit family. Some familiar family members, such as melons, watermelons, and cucumbers, are generally eaten raw. Still, zucchini more often tends to be served cooked.

Zucchinis can be cooked in many ways and almost always available every season. As such, it is a popular healthy, versatile option, often used in side dishes.It often appears as a side dish to go with the main dishes. It is suitable for many techniques such as grilling, broiling, steaming, cooking with salt before using in salads, grating and using in pasta making. With so many options, zucchini gives us plenty opportunity not to waste it and enjoy its variety of tastes.

From the Middle East to Crete in the Aegean region, stuffed zucchini is found in many cuisines. Typical stuffings in the Middle Eastern family of dolma include rice, onions, tomato, and sometimes meat.  

It usually grows in temperate climates, where the weather is neither too cold nor hot. It can be found frequently during the summer months and is available throughout the year. It may appear in different colours and sizes according to geography and climate. Smaller squashes are less bitter, their seeds are softer, and their rind is thinner.

History

Zucchini, like all squash, has its ancestry in the Americas, specifically Mesoamerica. However, the varieties of green, cylindrical squash harvested immaturely and typically called “zucchini” were cultivated in northern Italy, as much as three centuries after the introduction of cucurbits from the Americas. It appears that this occurred in the second half of the 19th century. However, the first description of the variety under the name zucchini can be found in work published in Milan in 1901. Early varieties usually appended the names of nearby cities in their names.

The first records of zucchini in the United States date back to the early 1920s. It was almost certainly taken to America by Italian immigrants. It probably was first cultivated in the United States in California. A 1928 report on vegetables grown in New York State treats “Zucchini” as one among 60 cultivated varieties of C. pepo.

How to prepare

Zucchini doesn’t need peeling. Slice off each end and prepare as the recipe directs. They can be sliced thinly and eaten raw too.

 

How to cook

It’s best not to boil them, as they become mushy and lose their flavour. Nevertheless, there are countless ways to cook zucchini. You can fry them in butter or oil- plain or with a light batter. If you’d like something smokier, you can roast them until tender and golden or marinate and BBQ using a grill or griddle until charred and soft for more intense flavours. Zucchini are great additions to stir-fries and curries as well. 

Zucchini plays a significant role in some legendary world cuisine recipes, such as the world-known Ratatouille. It’s a dish with a lot of appeals, both in terms of taste and presentation. Click here for the recipe! 

Here’s another inspired alternative: the Zucchini Spaghetti! Click for a delicious recipe for those who love spaghetti! If you say spaghetti cannot be without sauce, our green sauce recipe made with fresh herbs and greens is waiting for you. The Mediterranean cuisine is filled with fresh food and bold herbs that are healthy and tasty. The Zucchini Boats With Ground Meat is an inspired recipe with such flavours. 

Here’s a recipe for those looking for a twist on a classic zucchini crust pizza. A delicious recipe in which you can use up all your leftovers.

How To Store

Be gentle! Small nicks and scratches in the skin can cause your zucchini to deteriorate quickly. Fresh zucchini can be stored for about a week. Store it in a cool, dry place (not the fridge!), and only wash it right before using. Freeze zucchini by chopping it into slices, steaming or boiling for about 3 minutes, then place it in an airtight container. Frozen zucchini will last for about a year.

Zucchini is a fascinating food in both the way it is grown and its cooking methods. If we learn how the food we consume grows and where it grows under what conditions, our perspective on them will be much different. It will be more meaningful and more valuable. Check out our other articles to discover food and reduce food waste!