Did you know that a Zucchini is little more than an Italian squash? It didn’t reach great popularity in the United States until after the name was changed from “Italian squash” to “Zucchini”.
Food Finds about Zucchini
- The zucchini naturally grows to about a meter in length, but is usually harvested before it reaches this size.
- In culinary terms, the Zucchini is treated as a vegetable. Botanically however, it is a fruit. The Zucchini is the swollen ovary of the plant it comes from.
- Zucchini grows on a vine, not underground as the carrot does.
- Despite being Italian in origin, the Zucchini’s ancestors are American.
- “Zucca” is the Italian word for squash and “zucchina” is its diminutive (carrying a meaning like “little squash”), becoming “zucchine” in the plural. However, “zucchino”, the masculine form, becoming “zucchini” in the plural, is commonly used in the dialect of Tuscany.
- Zucchini is usually picked for food while it is still under 20cm while the seeds are still soft and immature.
- The florianese Zucchini is a special kind of Zucchini that is very much like a fruitbowl.
- Zucchini should be stored not longer than three days. They are prone to chilling damage which shows as sunken pits in the surface of the fruit, especially when brought up to room temperature after cool storage.
- In 2005, a poll of 2,000 people revealed the courgette to be Britain’s 10th favorite culinary vegetable.
- In Mexico, the flower (known as flor de calabaza) is preferred over the fruit and is often cooked in soups or used as a filling for quesadillas.
- In Italy, zucchini are served in a variety of ways, especially breaded and pan-fried. Some restaurants in Rome specialize in deep-frying the flowers, known as fiori di zucca.
- In France courgette is a key ingredient in ratatouille, a stew of summer fruits and vegetables prepared in olive oil and cooked for an extended time over low heat. The dish, originating near present-day Nice, is served as a side dish or on its own at lunch with bread. Zucchini are stuffed with meat with other fruits like tomatoes or bell peppers in a dish named courgette farcie (stuffed zucchini).
- In Turkish cuisine, zucchini is the main ingredient in the popular dish mücver, or “zucchini pancakes”, made from shredded zucchini, flour and eggs, lightly fried in olive oil and eaten with yogurt.
- In the Levant, zucchini is stuffed with minced meat and rice plus herbs and spices and steamed. It is also used in various kinds of stew. Stews that have low salinity are favorable in such cooking. It can also be stuffed with a mixture of rice, meat and eaten with yogurt.
- In Greece, zucchini is usually fried or boiled with other fruits (often green chili peppers and eggplants). It is served as an hors d’œuvre or as a main dish, especially during fasting seasons. Zucchini is also often stuffed with minced meat, rice and herbs and served with avgolemono sauce. In several parts of Greece, the flowers of the plant are stuffed with white cheese, usually feta or mizithra cheese, or with a mixture of rice, herbs and occasionally minced meat. Then they are deep-fried or baked with tomato sauce in the oven.
- In Bulgaria, zucchini are fried and then served with a dip, made from yogurt, garlic and dill. Another popular dish is oven-baked zucchini—sliced or grated—covered with a mixture of eggs, yoghurt, flour and dill.
- In Egypt, zucchini are cooked with tomato sauce, garlic and onions.
- In Spain, zucchini (calabacín in Spanish) is a core ingredient of pisto. Zucchini are also fried with egg and onions in olive oil to make a “Spanish” tortilla called “tortilla de calabacín”.