Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)

Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is a popular vegetable in the gourd family of Cucurbitaceae, originating in Italy. It is also known as Summer squash, and Courgette, a French term for zucchini, which is commonly used in Ireland, Great Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa. The word zucchini comes from Italian 'zucchino', meaning a small squash, while the term squash comes from the Indian 'skutasquash' meaning 'green things eaten green'. Zucchini is a Mediterranean favorite. Zucchini is grown mainly in cooler regions of Mediterranean, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and the United States.

Zucchini comes in many different varieties, including the golden zucchini and the globe or round zucchini. Each variety has a distinct shape, color, size and flavor. All varieties share some common characteristics. Regardless of variety, all parts of zucchini are edible. Some varieties also produce edible flowers. Zucchini are fagile and cannot be stored for long periods of time.

Zucchini is a small, dark green or yellow squash that looks like a cucumber. It has greenish-white, sweet, fleshy pulp which is covered by a soft, shiny skin. It is often served cooked. Zucchinis are picked and eaten young, typically when they are about 20 cm in length, when the seeds are still soft and immature. Mature zucchinis can grow more than 50 cm, but become fibrous and unappetizing.

Choose zucchinis with smooth, undamaged skins. They are fragile and should be eaten in a couple of days. Zucchinis are soft and succlent, and can be boiled, steamed, stuffed, barbecued, fried, baked, grilled or incorporated in other dishes such as souffles. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed, and are a delicacy when deep fried as tempura. No need to peel or seed, and young zucchini can be eaten raw in salads. Due to its high water content, zucchini is best steamed or cooked with minimum water added.

Zucchini is a good source of Vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, manganese, and is low in calories.

Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)
Author: AlbertCahalan (public domain)

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