Zucchini Brings Zexy back to Your Dinner Table

Whether you call it “Italian squash”, “Courgette”, or “Zucchini”, just be sure and call it for dinner! These glossy greens are all too often the understudies of the dinner theater, but they can play a leading role as appetizer, side dish, main or dessert, depending on your casting and creativity.You may be surprised to know that zucchini is not a vegetable at all.   Zukes are technically fruit.  Like other squash, they are the swollen ovaries of the squash blossom, and members of the cucumber and melon family.

Zucchini are great greens to grow at home because they’re easy to grow, prolific, and they grow fast. But proceed with caution, they can get overgrown fast too.  Harvest zukes before they reach full maturity. They’re most tender and sweet when less than 8 inches long.  Look for firm, heavy-feeling zucchini with unblemished bright and glossy skins.  If they get bigger than this they can become tasteless and dry.

You can freeze fresh zucchini too. Grate the flesh using a box grater (without peeling). This way you’re ready to make zucchini bread anytime the mood strikes!  Fresh or frozen, be sure to squeeze as much water out as possible before freezing and before baking. You’ll get a much moister result this way.

Zucchini was first grown in Italy during the 18th century. As a result, zucchini is a classic accompaniment to Italian dishes like ratatouille and antipasto. But we love it in this beautiful tart, tender sweet bread, and of course we adore the sensuous stuffed squash blossom!

Speaking of which, the golden squash blossom is the female flower on the end of each emerging zucchini. The male flower grows directly on the stem of the zucchini plant on a long stalk, and is slightly smaller than the female. Both flowers are edible, and are often used to accessorize a dish as a garnish.  We prefer to stuff our squash blossoms with goat cheese and saute them in herbs and breadcrumbs!

Summer squash season is May thru September for the home gardener. Squash blossoms are best sourced at local farmer’s markets and of course from the garden.They’re quite perishable. Blossoms should be used the day they’re bought, or at the most the day after. Pick them when they are closed or just slightly open and store them in the crisper section of your refrigerator until ready to cook.  The home gardener will want to pick the male flowers and let the zuchini grow since the female flowers will produce squash if left on the vine.

Bring Zexy back to your next dinner party with some of our favorite zucchini delights!

Here’s to your next dinner party!  

Cheers – Holly