What is Zucchini?
Zucchini is a summer squash found in abundance in the warmer months. However, it is now more available throughout the year.
It is a member of the melon, gourd, and cucumber family that is harvested when it is not yet matured, making it edible for us to consume.
The word zucchini comes from the Italian word zucchini (singular form), which means a small gourd. As it comes from Italy, they are sometimes referred to as the green Italian squash.
Like many of the food we eat today, Europeans who colonised the Americas brought the zucchini to the wider world.
Is Zucchini a Fruit?
Botanically speaking, yes. It is a young fruit that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae plant family.
We do, however, eat it as a vegetable.
Difference Between Zucchini and Courgette
Language. That is the only difference between the 2. Courgette is the French word for zucchini.
Nutritional Benefits of Zucchini
Like many vegetables that we eat, there are so many nutritional benefits that we can gain from them. Here is a quick snapshot of some of the healthy benefits of consuming zucchini:
- Zucchini is rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C and K, manganese, potassium, folate and magnesium.
- It helps to reduce blood sugar levels as it is a very healthy low carb replacement with minimal sugars.
- It is high in fibre, so it aids in having a healthy gut.
- Good for weight loss as it is low in calories.
- Rich in antioxidants that may benefit your eyes, skin, and heart.
- It helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure which in turn is good for heart health.
What Does Zucchini Taste Like?
Flavour: Zucchini is very mild tasting, much like a cucumber. It is, however, slightly sweeter with a tinge of nuttiness. It is, therefore, a great ingredient to bulk up salads without overpowering other ingredients.
It also takes on the flavour of whatever you combine it with, so it will absorb any salad dressing you may be making.
Texture: Raw zucchini has a bit of crunch, which mellows when introduced to heat. It can become very soft, very quickly.
It has high water content, so if you have a particularly dry salad, this will help to add some moisture to the recipe. On the other hand, if you’re worried that your salad will end up in a pool of water, you will need to dry it out first.
The entire zucchini can be consumed. You don’t have to peel the fruit, nor do you have to de-seed the centre.
What Goes Well with Zucchini?
Fruit and Vegetables
Apple, apricot, banana, blackberry, blueberry, Brussels sprouts, capsicum, cherry, chilli, corn, cucumber, eggplant, elderflower, endive, guava, kiwi, leek, mushroom, nectarine, papaya, peach, radish, raspberry, strawberry, sweet potato, turnip.
Herbs, Nuts and Spices
Almond, basil, cashew, coriander, pine nuts, tarragon.
Protein and Other
Bacon, crab, curry, pork, prawn, scallop, sesame, squid.
How to Use Zucchini in Salads?
Zucchini can be eaten raw, so feel free to add them into your salad recipes as they are. You can slice them thinly, peel them into ribbons or shred them to make zoodles (zucchini noodles).
If you find that eating it raw may not be your cup of tea, you can give it a quick blanch in some boiling hot water. This will take the edge off yet keep the bounce.
You can cut them in half lengthwise and grill them on the BBQ, roast them in olive oil or some of your favourite spice, or you can simply sauté them to your liking.
Salad Recipes with Zucchini
Dust off that zoodle maker to create the quickest vegan zucchini noodle salad in under 10 minutes. No, seriously, it’s that easy. Chop, scoop and mix, and you’ll have yourself a flavourful salad to add to your dinner party menu.
Dive into a traditional style salad that heralds the intertwining of Chinese and British Malay cultures of centuries past. This Zucchini and Cucumber Salad celebrates the fusion between the 2 cuisines, replicated nowhere else in the world.
Refreshing raw salad with courgette, carrot and fennel tumbled on top of tangy sheep milk yoghurt dressing perfect for revitalising the taste buds.
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