Zucchini

Zucchini

Courgette

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Zucchini (courgettes) are small young members of the marrow family, very popular in many of the superb dishes of Italy and France. They have a light delicate flavour and the texture, when cooked, should have a slight bite. Choose very young zucchini that are no more than 10 cm long so they will be sweet and tender. They should be firm to the touch without any bruising or soft spots. Avoid any that are spongy as they may be bitter. Different varieties of zucchini are available, the most familiar being dark green and quite slender. Other plumper ones are a delicate pale green with a slightly deeper green stripe. Basic preparation: Wash the zucchini gently, but do not peel. Trim off stem and any little brown mark at the other end, then cut diagonally into thick or thin slices or long strips, or if small and young enough, leave whole. If slices are to be deepfried, sprinkle them with salt and leave to drain for 1 hour; use 2 teaspoons salt for 500 g zucchini. Rinse, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Or they can be soaked in milk, drained and dried before dusting with flour.

To cook: Boil quickly, uncovered, in a little lightly salted water for 3–4 minutes or until tender, depending on the thickness of the slices. Drain and toss in butter. Be careful not to overcook as zucchini softens a little after draining and the texture should be tender but still crisp. Alternatively, toss in oil or a mixture of oil and butter and gently pan-fry until tender. Or grate raw zucchini and toss in butter over gentle heat for 1–2 minutes; stir in a little cream and a pinch of nutmeg. Grate raw into salads.

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