Vegetable or fruit?
Being the swollen ovary of the zucchini flowers and containing seeds, zucchini are fruit botanically, though most of us see it and treat it as a vegetable.
The zucchini flower part is beautiful with its sun like intensive yellow-orange hued leaves. Dipped into a light batter and deep-fried they make a delicious airy tempura appetizer. Fried zucchini flowers make a short appearance on many restaurants menus especially Italian themed restaurants when they’re available. Heinz Beck is a master in preparing zucchini flowers – he is a chef who cooks in Rome in a restaurant called La Pergola which is a magnificent must visit address if you’re visiting this ancient city. I think he must have similar memories from when we cooked in Europe side-by-side in a restaurant named Residenz Heinz Winkler, which had these flowers on the menu whenever they were available.
I have written about my dislike of zucchini before because of its somewhat mushy-seedy texture when cooked too long. The simple solution for my taste is not even cooking them at all especially when they’re adorned with a beautiful, pretty zucchini flower.
The following recipe includes raw zucchini. Zucchini carry a lot of water naturally so they need an assertive dressing with a good amount of lime juice.
(recipe yields four entrée sized portions)
1 pound zucchini
10 ounces of naturally peppery salad such as watercress and/or arugula
3 limes, juiced
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper mill grindings, to taste
1 teaspoon natural sweetener such as honey or agave2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Rinse zucchini with water and cut ends off
2. Cut zucchini with a vegetable slicer such as a Mandolin into matchstick like strips. Cut the strips across into small cubes. If you don’t have a Mandolin cut zucchini into small pieces.
3. Rinse the salad with water and dry in a salad spinner or kitchen paper towel.
4. In a small mixing bowl combine lime juice, salt, fresh pepper and sweetener and whisk vigorously with a wire whisk then add oil.
5. Toss salad and zucchini.
Chef’s Tip: Rub the salad bowl with a garlic clove cut in half for a garlicky scent in the salad.
(raw zucchini & fennel salad with citrus vinaigrette)
Are zucchini good for you?
Zucchini have antioxidant benefits and are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C and also contain a fair amount of vitamin A. For a ½ gram fat per cup of zucchini they add a lot of bulk and volume in a dish especially if prepared raw. Zucchini are a relative to cucumbers and have similar hygroscopic properties meaning it replenishes the water level in your body.