Zucchini also called courgette, variety of summer squash.
Zucchini like all squash has its ancestry in Central and South America.
It was brought to the Mediterranean by Christopher Columbus around 500 years ago.
However, the varieties of squash typically called “zucchini” were developed in northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century.
The first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s. It was almost certainly taken to America by Italian immigrants and probably was first cultivated in the United States in California.
The word “zucchini” comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash. The term squash comes from the Indian skutasquash meaning “green thing eaten green.”
Zucchini is technically a fruit, although it is treated and widely referred to as a vegetable.
Some popular zucchini varieties include golden zucchini, tatume, costata romanesco, and yellow crooknecks.
Zucchini plants are typically bushy and non-vining, though some varieties have a creeping habit.
The leaves are large and palmately lobed, and both the stems and the leaves have small prickly trichomes (plant hairs).
The large unisexual flowers have five yellow-orange petals and are pollinated by bees and other insects. The flowers are also edible and are sometimes fried.
Most varieties bear dark green cylindrical fruit, but some produce round or intermediate shapes in colors ranging from yellow-green to nearly black. The fruit can reach nearly 1 metre (3.3 feet) in length, but is usually harvested when still immature at about 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in). The fruit is a type of berry known as a pepo.
There are only 17 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of zucchini.
This food is low in saturated fat and sodium, and very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, niacin, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
The health benefits of zucchini include improved digestion, slows down aging, lowers blood sugar levels, supports healthy circulation and a healthy heart, improves eye health, boosts energy, benefits for weight loss, improves thyroid and adrenal functions, protects against oxidation and inflammation.
Unlike cucumber, zucchini is usually served cooked. It can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés.
Zucchini can also be baked into a bread similar to banana bread or incorporated into a cake mix similar to carrot cake.
Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.
In Italy, zucchini is served in a variety of ways: fried, baked, boiled, or deep fried, alone or in combination with other ingredients.
In France, zucchini is a key ingredient in ratatouille, a stew of summer fruits and vegetables prepared in olive oil and cooked for an extended time over low heat.
In Russia, Ukraine and Serbia zucchini usually is coated in flour or semolina and then fried or baked in vegetable oil, served with a sour cream.
In Bulgaria, zucchini may be fried and then served with a dip, made from yogurt, garlic, and dill.
In Greece, zucchini is usually fried or stewed with other fruits.
In Egypt, zucchini may be cooked with tomato sauce, garlic, and onions.
Zucchini is very easy to cultivate in temperate climates. As such, it has a reputation among home gardeners for overwhelming production.
Spain is the largest producer of zucchini in the world.
The longest zucchini courgette measures 2.52 m (8 ft 3.3 in) and was achieved by Giovanni Batista Scozzafava (Italy) in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, as measured on 28 August 2014.