Zucchini

Zucchini squash is the favored jewel of the summer squashes. Its flavor is light and sweet with flesh as delicate as a flower and texture that makes it almost melt in the mouth. Zucchini's many varieties offer the cook countless opportunities to prepare a varied menu of colorful summer dishes.

Summer squashes, as well a winter squashes, are native to the Americas and belong to the family of curcurbita. Archaeologists have traced their origins to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BCE, when they were an integral part of the ancient diet of maize, beans, and squashes. That pre-Columbian food trio is still the mainstay of the Mexican cuisine and is known today as the "three sisters." Many explorers who came to the Americas brought back what they considered strange foods. The zucchini eventually found its way to Italy where it was named zucchino.

Many names have been given to this squash. The French call it courgette, a name that has been adopted by the English. The English also refer to a variety that is slightly larger and plumper as marrow.

The colonists of New England adopted the name squash, a word derived from several Native American words for the vegetable which meant "something eaten raw." George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were squash enthusiasts who even enjoyed growing them.

With their high water content (more than 95 percent), zucchini squashes are very low in calories. There are only 13 calories in a half-cup of raw zucchini, with a slight increase to 18 calories in the same quantity cooked. Nutritionally, zucchinis offer valuable antioxidants. They also provide some beta-carotene, trace quantities of the B vitamins, folic acid, small amounts of vitamin C and calcium, and a healthy content of potassium.

Storing and Cooking

Store unwashed zucchini in perforated plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator; wash zucchini just before preparation. Make small holes with a sharp object in unperforated plastic bags (about 20 holes per medium-size bag) For best quality, use zucchini within about three to four days. Wash the squash just before preparation. Zucchini makes a quick addition to meals as it doesn't have to be peeled!

Here are some quick ways to prepare zucchini:

Raw:

  • Cut zucchinis into strips and include them in a platter of crudites.
  • Shred them into salads.
  • Prepare a salad from shredded zucchini and shredded carrots; add a dressing and enjoy.
  • Dice them and add to a chopped salad.
  • Puree them in the blender with a little water, and add seasoning to create a sauce.
  • Mix squashes of various colors for an attractive presentation of bright yellow paired with light and dark green.
Cooked:

  • Steamed: With their high water content they can be cooked without water in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Otherwise, steam them in a small amount of water, about 1/4" in the bottom of the pot, for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Baked: Slice zucchini, chop onions, shred carrots, chop peppers, chop tomatoes. Layer the vegetables in a casserole with seasonings and herbs. Cover bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.
  • Stuffed: Core out the centers of each squash (Middle Eastern delis have a special tool for this or use an apple corer). Chop onions, mushrooms, peppers, tofu, tomatoes. Add seasonings and stuff. Bake covered in a casserole with tomato sauce at 350 for about 45 to 60 minutes.
Zucchini Recipes:

Judy's Zucchini Pickles

Summer Squash with Onion and Goat Cheese

Zucchini Pancakes Topped with Diced Tomatoes

Did you know?

Fruits and vegetables shipped from distant states and countries can spend as many as seven to fourteen days in transit before they arrive in the supermarket.

Quotes

"In the present State of America our welfare and prosperity depend upon the cultivation of our lands and turning the produce of them to the best advantage."
~George Washington

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      • Here's a sample box from October!
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      • Celeriac
      • Onions
      • Carrots
      • Beets
      • Cabbage
      • Winter Squash
      • Black Beans
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