Chatelaine Kitchen

5 things you didn't know about zucchini

Nope, it's not a vegetable. Improve your fruit IQ with these facts.

Zucchini

Photo, Erik Putz.

When it comes to summer produce, zucchini is one of the most versatile; it can be eaten raw, pickled, sautéed, grilled, roasted and even baked into delicious breads and muffins. This mild summer squash adapts well to different recipes because it absorbs flavour exceptionally well. When eaten raw, it’s refreshing and crunchy, while roasting brings out its inner sweetness and grilling gives it a smoky flavour.

Buying local? You’ll start to see zucchini in July, and it will stay on the shelves well into September.

Five things to know about zucchini

1. Like avocados, tomatoes, peppers and squash, zucchinis aren’t really a vegetable at all. While they’re known to be absolutely delicious in savoury dishes, they have seeds which run through their core, making them a fruit by definition.

2. The most common variety of zucchini available are deep green in colour, but there are many others to choose from. Whether it’s pale green, striped, yellow or orange, whichever you find at the farmers market or grocery store, try it out – they can all be used interchangeably in recipes.

3. Outside of North America, you’ll often find zucchinis labelled as the french word courgettes, squash or summer squash. But don’t be fooled by the name, as they’re the same varieties that are grown closer to home.

4. Usually at the beginning of the growing season, you can often buy the vibrant yellow, orange and green blossoms from immature zucchinis. These blossoms, or flowers, are edible and have a wonderful, delicate flavour. They can be stuffed with soft cheese and herbs, fried in a light batter, sautéed with butter and sea salt or torn into a summery salad.

5. Try to buy zucchini that is small to medium in size, as the larger ones are more fibrous. This means they will have more seeds, a woodier texture and may be more bitter. However, if you happen to have large ones on hand, they can easily be grated and baked into loaves or muffins, as they’ll cook just as well and be balanced out by the sweetness in a batter.

Did you know Canada holds a zucchini world record? The longest zucchini ever recorded was grown in Brampton, Ontario by Gurdial Singh Kanwal. It measured a whopping 7 ft, 10.3 in.

Related:
A quick guide to summer fruits and vegetables
23 bright and summery zucchini recipes
How to buy, store and prepare zucchini