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Zucchini


Zucchini

Storage

Zucchini should keep for 4 - 5 days if stored in your refrigerator.

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Origins and Culture

Summer squashes, as well as winter squashes, are native to the Americas and belong to the family of 'curcurbita.' Archaeologists have traced their origins to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BC, when they were an integral part of the ancient diet of maize, beans, and squashes. That pre-Columbian food trio is still the mainstay of the Mexican cuisine and today they are known as the "three sisters."

Many explorers who came to the Americas brought back what they considered strange foods. The zucchini eventually found its way to Italy, where it was named 'zucchino.' Many names have been given to this squash. The French call it 'courgette,' a name that has been adopted by the English. The English also refer to a variety that is slightly larger and plumper as 'marrow.'

It is hard to believe that only 30 years ago zucchini was rare in North America, found only in Italian specialty markets. There are many varieties of zucchini, but the two most popular are the Italian variety, which is green (or yellow), slender, sometimes ridged and straight with a slight curve, and the Middle Eastern variety, which is paler in colour and more blocky in shape.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

With their high water content (more than 95 percent), zucchini squashes are very low in calories. There are only 13 calories in a half-cup of raw zucchini, with a slight increase to 18 calories in the same quantity cooked. Nutritionally, zucchinis offer valuable antioxidants. They also provide some beta-carotene; trace quantities of the B vitamins, folic acid, small amounts of vitamin C and calcium, and a healthy content of potassium.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

It is a versatile vegetable great on the grill, in salads, stir-fries, pizzas, and, in particular, sauted in side dishes. As the season progresses, you can enjoy zucchini in casseroles, gratins, soups and stews. Zucchini, like all summer squash, goes well with tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, garlic, and fresh herbs. Just when you've had enough zucchini, you can grate it in cakes and breads to add moisture and reduce fat.

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