Vegetable of the Week, Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

The noun vegetable indicates an edible plant or part of a plant, but frequently rules out seeds and generally sweet fruit, this in general means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant.

In a non-biological sense, the consequence of this word is in the main founded on culinary and cultural belief therefore, the use of the word is to some extent random and skewed. For example, some people believe mushrooms to be vegetables even though they are not biologically plants; they are fungi while others consider them a separate food category.

Anyway enough of all that let’s get to the vegetable of the week!

Here in the United Kingdom we often just use courgettes to make a very insipid ratatouille or use it in some appalling way to make a vegetarian dish, please try to avoid doing this to a poor vegetable that is just trying to please you.

The courgette is a delightful tender vegetable with a clean tantalizing flavour and although it wasn’t eaten very much in Europe before the 20th century it is believed to have been developed from the squash and squash have been cultivated in the Americas for more the 5 thousand years, today the courgette is very popular in Mexico and Japan and modern European cuisine would not be the same without the courgette.

And just like the aubergine, the courgette was brought to the interest of the British in the mid-twentieth century thanks to the writings of Elizabeth David.

Courgettes are in the same family as watermelons, gherkins, and cucumbers.

Courgettes are more often than not marrows harvested when very young, even though the older fruit of a number of kinds of squash may well also be sold as courgettes.

Best British Season Is;

June, July, August, September, October

Buying Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

You are going to be looking for the smaller, younger, firm, heavy courgettes they have more flavour, only buy those with unblemished bright glossy skins.

Storing Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

They do not keep for long so it is best to use them as soon as possible however they will keep for 3 to 5 days in the salad drawer of a fridge.

Preparing and Cooking Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

  • Wash well and trim both ends.
  • The courgette is a versatile ingredient which you can bake, fry, steam or stew according to the recipe you are using
  • Courgette flowers are often to be found on the menus of many French and Italian restaurants.
  • Smaller flowers are sometimes dipped in a tempura batter and deep fried, the larger flowers are typically stuffed with tomatoes and herbs or goat’s cheese.

Recipes for Courgettes

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One thought on “Vegetable of the Week, Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

  1. mwkitchen June 22, 2012 at 16:07

    indeed a fantastic ingredient with very versatile uses. I’ve noticed in the UK sometimes only larger varieties available, whilst their taste is no comparison to that of younger, smaller zucchini, I use them for one of my favourite snacks – zucchini fritti. Batons covered in a simple olive oil, flour and water batter and deep fried – one of the most addictive snacks ever.
    As for the flowers, stunning uses in risottos and stuffed but pretty inaccessible unless homegrown.. An Italian bakery near me was once selling them for £2.50 a flower!


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