Z for Zucchini
What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable? A fruit develops from the flower of a plant and a vegetable is any other part of the plant that is edible such as stems, roots and leaves. Thus, most of the common vegetables we eat today are technically fruits.
Zucchinis are summer squashes that are harvested when immature, while the rind is still soft and edible. And as the name indicates, they are naturally available during the hot months of the summer.
Zucchinis are part of the gourd family, and they are native to Central America and Mexico. It is one of the many varieties of squashes that used to be grown by Native Americans, along with acorn squashes, pumpkins and gourds, for about 4,500 years.
Like most summer squashes, zucchini grows as a bush, unlike the vines of many winter squashes. Gourds have been cultivated. since more than 7,000 years ago. Zucchinis are dioecious plants, having distinctive male and female flowers.
Native to Central America, they were introduced to Europe by the explorers who came to the America’s following Columbus’s voyage in 1492. Other produce that came from Central America include corn, beans, squash, cocoa, vanilla, potatoes, tomatoes, and bell and chili peppers.
Zucchini appeared in the North America in the 1920s, most likely brought back by Italian immigrants. Today, zucchinis are grown throughout the United States during the warm season.
Zucchini, the Italian name for the squash that was adopted in the US, has zucca meaning gourd (marrow, pumpkin or squash) as its root, with the added ‘ini’ meaning ‘little’. There are several variations to the name in Italy, like zucchino (masculine singular) zucchina (feminine singular), zucchini (masculine plural) and zucchine (feminine plural). In the UK, they are called courgettes, which name is borrowed from the French.
Zucchinis can be any shade of green, while the golden zucchini is a deep yellow or orange.
Low in calorie count, it provides folates, Vitamin A and potassium.
Zucchinis are very well traveled, being present in all parts of the world. And well known dishes zucchini fritte and ratatouille come from different cuisines.
Extremely versatile, zucchini lends itself to many interpretations. Not having a strong flavor by itself, it can be made part of any dish, adding to the nutrition without adding calories.
Zucchinis can be eaten raw in salads or cooked (sautéed, steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed, baked, fried), for breakfast or dinner, and savory or sweet. Zucchini bread is a popular way to use it up while spiralized zucchini has been quite trending for a while now.
Zucchini flowers are edible and considered a delicacy, and can be stuffed, battered and deep fried.
The recipe featured here is for a soup that is simple to make and nutritious, and also very tasty.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large zucchini
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- Pinch of cayenne
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut off some paper thin slices of zucchini, season with salt and a few drops of lemon juice and set aside. Dice the rest of the zucchini into half inch pieces.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a largish soup pot and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it is tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add a generous pinch of salt, the garlic and the zucchini and stir for about a minute, until the garlic smells fragrant.
- Add the curry powder, stir together, and add the stock and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt if required.
- Using an immersion blender, purée the soup
- Return to the pot and heat through.
- Add pepper and cayenne to taste and stir in the lemon juice.
- Serve, garnishing each bowl with the reserved slices of zucchini.