Zucchini, also known as courgette, is part of the summer squash family and can grow up to near a meter in length! However they’re typically picked while still immature and much shorter in length, ensuring the skin is tender and thin and the seeds are edible. Mild in flavour, zucchini can be grilled, tossed into a stir-fry, deep-fried for a fun party appetizer or made into a delicious and moist zucchini loaf.
To pick the best zucchini, choose one that is shiny, firm, vibrant in colour, (whether light or dark green) and is free from spots, cuts or bruises. Smaller zucchinis will be more tender then larger ones! A good size is four to eight inches long and two to three inches thick. Larger zucchinis are best used for baking because they are firmer in texture and take longer to cook over the stovetop.
How to Store Zucchini
You can store zucchini in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to five days. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to eat it or cook it.
After you wash the zucchini, blot dry and cut off both ends.
Zucchini can be enjoyed raw in salad or as part of a veggie platter. Since zucchini is typically quite tender from being harvested early, you can eat the skin. Cooking it with the skin on will also provide better structure while heated and will help to contain more nutrients.Because of it’s substantial water content, it doesn’t take long to cook when using heat methods such as steaming, roasting, baking, sautéing or deep-frying. It’s best to cook zucchini until just tender-crisp. For recipes, three medium zucchinis will yield about three cups of sliced zucchini.
Types of Zucchini
The most common types of zucchini include ones that are straight, slim and either dark green or yellow in colour. English zucchini is a little fatter in shape and is speckled green and white.
- Zucchini holds a lot of water. To reduce the amount of water for crispier result in cooking or baking, simply salt diced or sliced zucchini and leave for half an hour. Rinse the zucchini and squeeze dry with a paper towel. This will leave you with slightly dehydrated zucchini that will soak up flavours more easily and won’t dilute your dish with water that evaporates from the vegetable while cooking.
- Spiralizers are a new tool for making” zucchini noodles”. A great way to replace pasta – top with your favourite sauce and toppings and enjoy
- Zucchini is best enjoyed when it still has a little bite left to it. To make sure you don’t overcook zucchini, keep an eye on its skin. During the cooking process, the edge just under the skin will turn bright green as it cooks. This is a good indication that it has reached its tender-crisp point.
- Grate zucchini using a large-hole box grater and add to meatloaf, pasta sauces, and burgers. It will add moisture, nutrients and flavour! It also is a great way to hide veggies in foods for picky eaters!
Zucchini goes well with: garlic, basil, lemon, oregano, olive oil, parsley, pepper, salt, onion, thyme, vinegar, tomatoes, mushrooms, sweet bell peppers, corn, eggplant, cheeses such as feta, ricotta, and goat, salmon, eggs, shrimp, quinoa, rice, and even pecans and chocolate!
Zucchini Flavour Pairings:
Zucchini + basil + Parmesan
Zucchini + red peppers + eggplant + onions + tomatoes
Zucchini + olive oil + salt + pepper + oregano
Zucchini + feta + lemon + olive oil
Zucchini Serving Ideas:
There are endless ways to use zucchini! If you have access to a spiralizer, you can cut up zucchini into noodles (or “zoodles”) to use as a raw pasta for a lightened “pasta” dish. Zoodles can be eaten raw, or quickly blanched for a softer texture. You can serve the zoodles like spaghetti with any sauce you like.
You could also roast zucchini with some mushrooms, sweet bell peppers, eggplant, and onion and serve on the side. Zucchini is also great in a ratatouille (also baked), in a frittata, or mixed into fritters for breakfast.
Zucchini is delicious grilled, served on it’s own with some olive oil, salt and pepper, or chopped into a grilled veggie salad.
Sneak some more veggies into the meals you prepare for your kids by hiding it in zucchini chocolate cake or brownies! They won’t even notice as zucchini simply adds more moisture to baked goods without weighing down the batter!
Due to their high water content, zucchini are high in nutrition while low in calories. One cup of raw, chopped zucchini yields about 20 calories, but packs 35% of your daily vitamin C, 14% of your daily vitamin B6, 11% of your daily manganese, 10% of your daily riboflavin, and 9% of your daily folate.
Eating vitamin C along with sources of iron is reputed to help your body absorb more iron, so eating zucchini with iron-rich foods such as dark, leafy greens means a higher absorption of iron!