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Around the World on a Zucchini
By FoodFreinds

The plant genus Curcubita produces many useful food items including melons, vegetable marrow, also known as squash, pumpkins ands of course zucchini, also known as courgette.

Originally domesticated as much as 5000 years ago in the southern part of the North American continent in present day Mexico, the zucchini was spread throughout the world after the Europeans found out they were not the only ones on the planet. It is a plant particularly suited to warmer climates since it cannot withstand any frost, and it is also easy to grow, so the Mediterranean countries adopted it to their cuisine.

On a tour around the countries of the Mediterranean region the traveler will find the humble zucchini appearing everywhere from the south of France to the shores of the Lebanon.

Zucchini is almost always served cooked, unlike its cousin the cucumber. It can be boiled, baked, fried, grilled or cooked in stews and soups. To give readers some ideas for using zucchinis we include a few of our members' favourite zucchini recipes, but with a quick a search of the internet readers will find many more ideas with which to experiment. If you are growing zucchini plants you might like to try the flowers, which are edible, usually cooked by deep-frying. In Italy these are known as fiori di zucca.

The first thing to note with Zucchini (Courgette) is that size isn't everything. It's a case of the smaller the tastier, eight inches or 20cm is enough! If they are fairly small then they may be used raw, thinly sliced in a salad with chopped fresh herbs, and your favourite dressing. Larger Zucchini are bitter if not cooked.

Ratatouille the French vegetable stew, will be known to us all, if only from the Disney film of that name. It is my personal favourite way to eat vegetables, and so simple. Darina Allan advises to fry the aubergines and small zucchinis separately to the onions, peppers and tomatoes and add them to the mix at the end. Similar stews are found in Egyptian cuisine and else where in the Mediterranean region.
The Italians like their zucchinis sliced, covered in egg and breadcrumbs and fried. In turkey zucchini pancakes are popular and easy to make with flour, eggs and shredded zucchini.

Zucchini can be added to almost any vegetable soup and other stews and it helps to naturally thicken them.

Nutrition: Like most vegetables, zucchini is low in fat and in overall calories, but it is a useful source of vitamins and minerals.

FoodFriends prepared three very different recipes

Zucchini (Courgette) Slice
Serves approx 4

Ingredients
1 or 2 Zucchini (375grms) grated
1 cup grated cheese
1 onion chopped
3 rashers bacon, cooked and chopped
1 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large or 5 small eggs, lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, chopped
Ground pepper - to taste

Method
Lightly fry onion and bacon. Then combine all the ingredients into bowl, mix together and pour into quiche dish and cook in oven for 35 to 40 mins.

Notes: Can be served hot as main dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner or served cold, cut into small pieces and tossed in salad. Perfect for picnics.

Zucchini (Courgette) Basil and Lemon Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients
4 small Zucchinis
3 tbsp olive oil
Grated zest and juice of one lemon
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp chopped basil
Salt and black pepper

Method
Slice the Zucchinis along their length very thinly (long thin slices). Place in a shallow bowl. Make a dressing by mixing the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, honey and salt and pepper.

Pour over the Zucchinis, cover bowl and place in fridge for at least 3 to 4 hours but better overnight.

Notes: A very refreshing salad

Zucchini (Courgette) Bread
Makes two loaves

Ingredients
450g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 level tsp bread soda, finely sieved
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ (half) tsp ground cloves
125ml milk
2 eggs
110g butter
110g sugar
3 Zucchini (15cm long), grated
50g chopped walnuts
2 loaf tins, fully lined

Method
Preheat the oven to 1800C/3500F/gas 4. Sieve the dry ingredients, except the sugar, into a large wide bowl. Rub in the butter and stir in the sugar. Beat the eggs with the milk and pour into the dry ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in the zucchini and walnuts.

Divide into the lined loaf tins and bake in the preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tins for about five minutes, then take out of the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.


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