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Zucchini 101

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Zucchini 101

The zucchini is a member of the squash family which in turn is related to the melon and cucumber. There are two categories of squash; summer and winter. The zucchini is in the category of summer squash.

Zucchini is fragile. They have tender skin that is edible; as are their seeds. The zucchini is also called “corugette”. Its white, watery flesh does not have a lot of flavor and tastes its best when small (6-8 inches).

 

BUYING ZUCCHINI

Choose: firm, intact squash with glossy skin, without marks or cracks.

Avoid: zucchini that is too large or too small, dull or with spots.

 

STORING ZUCCHINI

In The Fridge: 1 week, in a loosely closed or perforated plastic bag. Do not wash until just before using.

In The Freezer: 3-4 months, cut into ½” slices and blanched for 2 minutes. Its flesh becomes softer after defrosting.

 

PREPARING ZUCCHINI

Wash, and then cut off ends. Leave zucchini whole, grate, or cut into halves, dice, julienne, strips or slices. Zucchini can be halved lengthwise, hollowed out and stuffed. It is often salted, especially if its water content could upset the balance of a dish.

To Salt: slice the zucchini more or less thickly, arrange on a shallow plate, sprinkle liberally with coarse salt and let stand for 20-30 minutes. Rinse the slices in a colander under cold running water. Dry and prepare according to the recipe.

 

COOKING ZUCCHINI

Boiled: Cut zucchini in to ¾ -1 ½ inch cubes, use only a little water and cook 10-15 minutes until tender. Prick a whole, unpeeled zucchini in several places, cover with water and boil for 1 hour. This method does not yield the best results.

Steamed: Cut the zucchini in half, into slices or chunks; season with salt and place on a rack in a large saucepan for 15-40 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. This method of cooking is recommended.

Baked: Use unpeeled zucchini, cut in half (or into quarters if large). Put a little water, orange juice or lemon juice into the cavity (if cutting in half) and place the zucchini in a dish containing ¾ -2 inches of water and bake for 30-60 minutes, until tender. These can also be stuffed or add cheese for a gratin.

Microwaved: this method is not recommended for zucchini or any other summer squash as the squash may become rubbery.

 

SERVING IDEAS FOR ZUCCHINI

Zucchini can be eaten raw or cooked. It is eaten plain or with dips. It is used in appetizers, salads and sandwiches, or marinated. Grated and mixed with eggs, flour and seasoning, it can be made into great crepes.

Zucchini can be cooked in its own juice with garlic, onions, and tomatoes. It can also be stuffed and cooked in the oven, gratinéed, braised, fried coated in batter or bread crumbs or broiled. It is used in soups, stews, quiches and omelettes. It can replace cucumbers in most recipes.

The flowers of the zucchini plant are edible. They have a delicate taste and add flavor and a decorative effect to soups, fritters, crepes, omelettes, rice, seafood and poultry. They are lightly fried over high heat or stuffed and then baked in the oven.

 

(Information taken from the culinary textbook, “The Visual Food Lover’s Guide”)

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