Cooking Basic ingredients of Italian cuisine Zucchini (courgettes)


Zucchini or courgettes: nutritive value, how to clean, cut and cook, recipes ...

courgettes - zucchini, the photo shows these vegetables filled with couscous
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Zucchini or courgettes

Zucchini (courgettes in UK)

Nutritive value in 100g edible part

Edible part % 88
Water g 93.6
Protein g 1.3
Total fat g 0.1
Carbohydrates g 1.4
Total dietary fiber g 1.3
Food energy kcal 11
kJ 47
Sodium mg 22
Potassium mg 264
Iron mg 0.5
Calcium mg 21
Phosphorus mg 65
Thiamin mg 0.08
Riboflavin mg 0.12
Niacin mg 0.70
Vitamin A µg 6
Vitamin C mg 11

Description. The plant that bears zucchini is native to Central and South America. It belongs to the family of melons, cucumbers and pumpkins (Cucurbitaceae). Zucchini have a light or dark green peel; they can have yellow streakings too. There are many varieties round the world but everyone is easily perishable and keeps for a short time.
Another peculiarity of this plant is the development of flowers, called "zucchini flowers", that can be stuffed or deep-fried or used in pasta, risotto or savoury pie (savoury pie with zucchini flowers).
You can find zucchini all year according to cultivation in greenhouse and international commerce. However il would be better to eat this kind of vegetables in summer when they are cheaper and full of nutritive substances.

Nutritional properties. As you can see in the table of nutritive value, zucchini provide few calories and they are low fat.

courgettes - zucchini and their varieties

Their taste is neutral and for this reason they are very useful for preparing recipes with meat, fish, cheese, grain and pulses (zucchini stuffed with cous cous), or for realizing risotto or pasta sauces. Nowadays in Italy we're discovering their use in low-fat side dishes. The important thing is cooking them well (for a short time) and dressing with aromatic herbs.
In fact zucchini are good sources of potassium, vitamin E (that help to protect us from free radicals), lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin C. Vitamin C is very sensitive to heat and so you have to cook zucchini for a short time. The ideal thing would be to eat them raw.

Therapeutic effects. Zucchini are laxative, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and purifying.

Purchase tips. Choose always very firm, little and thin zucchini because they have few seeds. Remember that they must have a bright skin, no braise and a light down.

Storage. Zucchini can be kept for a short time. You can preserve them in the refrigerator for 3-4 days: the more you preserve them the more they lose their nutritive value.

How to clean and cut. If zucchini are young and thin, it's enough to trim the ends. If they are bigger, it's necessary to remove all the seeds.
You can cut them into slices lentghways (to grill them) or into slices crossways (to sauté with garlic and parsley). You can also dice them (for soup or stewed side dishes) or cut into julienne (to fry them or prepare sauces).

How to cook. Zucchini can be cooked by boiling (for a short time), steaming, grilling, frying ... Larger varieties can be hollowed out for stuffing and baking.


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