Zucchini

September 4, 2009, Posted by Carmen Lopez Marshall at 6:39 pm | No Comments

Zucchini (pronounced zukini in North American and Australian English) or courgette (in New Zealand, South African, and British English or French) is a small summer squash. Along with some other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. The zucchini can be yellow, green or light green, and generally has a similar shape to a ridged cucumber, though a few cultivars are available that produce round or bottle-shaped fruit.

In a culinary context, zucchini is treated as a vegetable, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower.

Nutrition
The zucchini vegetable is low in calories (approximately 15 food calories per 100 g fresh zucchini) and contains useful amounts of folate (24 mcg/100 g), potassium (280 mg/100 g) and vitamin A (384 IU [115 mcg]/100 g. 1/2 cup of zucchini also contains 19% of the recommended amount of manganese.

When used for food, zucchini are usually picked when under 20 cm (8 in.) in length and the seeds are soft and immature. Mature zucchini can be as much as three feet long, but are often fibrous and not appetizing to eat. Zucchini with the flowers attached are a sign of a truly fresh and immature fruit, and are especially sought by many people.[citation needed]

Unlike cucumber, zucchini are usually served cooked. It can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as souffl├ęs. It also can be baked into a bread, or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.

The zucchini has a delicate flavor and requires little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs.[citation needed] The skin is left in place. Quick cooking of barely wet zucchini in oil or butter allows the vegetable to partially boil and steam, with the juices concentrated in the final moments of frying when the water has gone, prior to serving. Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad,baked into a bread, as well as hot and barely cooked in hot salads, as in Thai or Vietnamese recipes.

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