Zucchini is a summer squash. While we treat it as a vegetable, zucchini is actually an immature fruit. Zucchini are dark to light green in color and can grow from the size of a finger to two feet long. Most of the commercially grown zucchini is from four to eight inches long and two to three inches in width.
Many explorers who came to the Americas brought back what they considered strange foods. The zucchini was one such food and it eventually found its way to Italy, where the zucchini we know today was developed. In fact the word zucchini is the plural of the Italian word "zucchino" meaning "a small squash".
My maternal grandmother, Grandma Pallini, used to make "cocozelle", another word for zucchini, by cooking it in tomato sauce flavored with onion and garlic. I just recently found out that zucchini cooked in tomato sauce with onion and garlic is an Egyptian dish. Go figure!
Zucchini are available in your local grocery store all year long. Select the smaller one which tend to be younger and more tender. Look for skins free from blemishes with a bright color. Zucchini should be stored no longer than three days.
When preparing zucchini the skin is left on. That's where all the nutrients are. Just make sure you wash it well. Zucchini has 95% water content so is very low in calories. It also has useful amounts of folate, potassium, vitamin A , and manganese.
Zucchini can be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad as well as lightly cooked in hot salads. More often it is served cooked. It can be steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, roasted, or incorporated in other recipes such as souffles. It can also be baked into bread.
Zucchini's mild suttle flavor matches well with basil, bread crumbs, butter, cayene, cheese, cilantro, cream, dill, eggplant, garlic, lemon, marjoram, mushrooms, olive oil, onion, oregano, parsley, pesto, pine nuts, rosemary, sage, salmon, tarragon , thyme, tomatoes, vinegar, and walnuts. So, go ahead and get creative.
Eat up, enjoy, I'll show you how.