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Jewish Recipes --> Foods --> List of Vegetables --> Squash --> Zucchini

The zucchini or courgette is a summer squash which can reach nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. Along with certain other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. Zucchini can be dark or light green. A related hybrid, the golden zucchini, is a deep yellow or orange color.

In a culinary context, the 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 zucchini flower.

Recipes: Zucchini Recipes

Culinary uses

When used for food, zucchini are usually picked when under 20 cm (8 in.) in length, when the seeds are still soft and immature. Mature zucchini can be as large as three feet in length. The larger ones are often fibrous. A zucchini with the flowers attached are a sign of a truly fresh and immature fruit, and are especially sought by many people for its sweeter flavor.

Unlike cucumber, zucchini is 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 soufflés. Zucchini can also be baked into bread similar to banana bread or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.

Nutrition

The zucchini fruit 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. Continued -->

Grilled zucchini

The zucchini has a delicate flavor and requires little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs. The skin is left in place. Quick cooking of barely wet zucchini in oil or butter allows the fruit 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, as well as lightly cooked in hot salads, as in Thai or Vietnamese recipes. Mature (larger sized) zucchini are well suited for cooking in breads.

In 2005, a poll of 2,000 people revealed the zucchini to be Britain's 10th favorite culinary vegetable.

In Mexico, the flower (known as flor de calabaza) is often cooked in soups or used as a filling for quesadillas. The fruit is used in stews, soups (i.e. caldo de res, de pollo or de pescado, mole de olla, etc.) and other preparations. Both the flower and the fruit are eaten readily throughout Mexico.

In Italy, zucchini are served in a variety of ways, especially breaded and pan-fried. Some restaurants in Rome specialize in deep-frying the flowers, known as fiori di zucca.

In France zucchini are a key ingredient in ratatouille, a stew of summer fruits and vegetables prepared in olive oil and cooked for an extended time over low heat. The dish, originating near present-day Nice, is served as a side dish or on its own at lunch with bread. Zucchini are stuffed with meat with other fruits like tomatoes or bell peppers in a dish named courgette farcie (stuffed zucchini).

In Turkey, zucchini is the main ingredient in the popular dish mücver, or "zucchini pancakes", made from shredded zucchini, flour and eggs, lightly fried in olive oil and eaten with yogurt.They are also used not infrequently in kebabs along with various meats.

In the Levant, zucchini is stuffed with minced meat and rice plus herbs and spices and steamed. It is also used in various kinds of stew. Stews that have low salinity are favorable in such cooking. It can also be stuffed with a mixture of rice, meat and eaten with yogurt.

In Greece, zucchini is usually fried or boiled with other fruits (often green chili peppers and eggplants). It is served as an hors d'œuvre or as a main dish, especially during fasting seasons. Zucchini is also often stuffed with minced meat, rice and herbs and served with avgolemono sauce. In several parts of Greece, the flowers of the plant are stuffed with white cheese, usually feta or mizithra cheese, or with a mixture of rice, herbs and occasionally minced meat. Then they are deep-fried or baked with tomato sauce in the oven.

In Bulgaria, zucchini are fried and then served with a dip, made from yogurt, garlic and dill. Another popular dish is oven-baked zucchini—sliced or grated—covered with a mixture of eggs, yogurt, flour and dill.

In Egypt, zucchini are cooked with tomato sauce, garlic and onions.

Nutrition

The zucchini fruit 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.

As a part of the summer squash family, zucchini not only offers delightful taste and texture to many dishes, but also carries with it many health benefits. Here are eight reasons why you and should include it in your diet.

Diet: One cup of zucchini has 36 calories and 10% of the RDA of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar and curbs overeating.

Lower Cholesterol: The dietary fiber in zucchini helps lower cholesterol by attaching itself to bile acids that the liver makes from cholesterol for digesting fat. Because fiber binds so well with bile acid, thus crowding its ability to immediately digest fat, the liver is charged with producing more bile acid.

The liver then draws upon even more cholesterol to produce bile acid, consequently lowering the overall cholesterol level in the body. Furthermore, the high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A prevent cholesterol from oxidizing in the body's blood vessels, thus hampering the onset of atherosclerosis.

Cancer Prevention: Because dietary fiber promotes healthy and regular bowel movements, the high amounts of fiber in zucchini also help prevent carcinogenic toxins from settling in the colon. Moreover, the vitamins C and A, as well as folate, found in zucchini act as powerful antioxidants that fight oxidative stress that can lead to many different types of cancer.

Prostate Health: Studies show that the phytonutrients in zucchini aid in reducing the symptoms of benign
prostatic hypertrophy (BOH), a condition in which the prostate gland enlarges and leads
to complications with urination and sexual functions in men.

Anti-inflammatory Vitamins C and A not only serve the body as powerful antioxidants, but also as effective anti- i  inflammatory agents. Along with the copper found in zucchini, these vitamins deter the development of many hyper-inflammatory disorders, including asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention: A one cup serving of zucchini contains over 10% of the RDA of magnesium, a mineral
proven to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Zucchini also provides folate, a vitamin needed to break down the dangerous amino acid homocysteine, which - if levels in the body shoot up - can contribute to heart attack and stroke.

Lower Blood Pressure: Along with magnesium, the potassium found in zucchini helps lower blood pressure. If unchecked, hypertension, or high blood pressure, can lead to arteriosclerosis (blood vessel damage), heart attack, stoke, and many other serious medical conditions. Both the potassium and magnesium in zucchini, however, can help alleviate the stress on the body's circulatory system.

High in Manganese: A trace mineral and essential nutrient, manganese provides many health benefits and contributes to a slew of normal physiological functions. One cup of zucchini contains 19% of the RDA of manganese, which helps the body metabolize protein and carbohydrates, participates in the production of sex hormones, and catalyzes the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol.

The manganese in zucchini also increases the levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), the enzyme responsible for protecting mitochondria against oxidative stress. Finally, manganese is essential for the production of proline, and amino acid that allows collagen to form, thus allowing for healthy skin and proper wound-healing.

Sept 2005 - 2013 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods - Kosher Recipes