Learning how to cook zucchini is worthwhile as they are a versatile vegetable. If you live in the Mediterranean or the UK you may know them by the name courgettes. So what are they?
They are a member of the marrow family, which in turn is also known as a squash. They resemble a baby marrow and have a delicate taste. They can be used in main dishes or as an accompaniment to a meal. Did you know that you can even eat the flowers, deep fried?
The first step in learning how to cook zucchini is preparing them.
Choose the smallest, tenderest zucchini with smooth, unblemished skins. Try to avoid any that look bruised or have soft spots. They should feel firm to the touch.
They are a very simple vegetable to prepare. Just wash or wipe them, chop off both ends and cut them as instructed by the recipe. There is no need to peel a zucchini.
Many cooking methods are suitable for zucchini. They can be sliced into rings and sautéed, deep fried or boiled, cut in half lengthwise and baked, grated and cooked in butter or eaten raw in salads. You can also use them to make a delicious soup, zucchini bread and even cakes!
Wash, top and tail and slice the zucchini. Put them in a colander and sprinkle with salt, then leave them for about 1 hour. This will draw out some of the water in the vegetables. Then rinse, drain and dry on kitchen towels.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan or skillet, then add the zucchini slices and cook them gently until they begin to turn translucent and the edges are lightly browned. Using a fish slice or palette knife turn them over from time to time to ensure they are cooked evenly.
They should take from 3-5 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness of the slices. Do not overcook as they will continue to soften slightly after taking them off the heat. They are best served slightly crisp, not soggy!
Want to know how to cook zucchini in the deep fat fryer? Read on!
This time, after topping and tailing the zucchini we are going to slice them lengthwise. This is easiest in either a food processor or with a mandolin (be careful - these are very sharp!).
Again put the slices in a colander or sieve, and sprinkle with salt. Leave for an hour. Then rinse, drain and dry well (we don't want them wet or they will cause the fat to splutter and spit).
Turn on the fryer or heat up a deep saucepan containing oil.
Tip a little flour onto a plate and grind some black pepper onto it. Give it a stir to mix the pepper in. Then dip each zucchini slice in it.
When the fat is hot pop a few slices of zucchini in at a time and fry for about 1 minute or until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve straight away. I like to grind more black pepper on them before eating them.
No salt this time! Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise (or leave them whole if they are very small). Lay them in a rectangular ovenproof dish and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I like to pop some crushed garlic cloves in with them as well. Then sprinkle the tops with grated parmesan cheese.
Bake in a medium oven (180 degrees C, 350 degrees F or gas mark 4) for about 20-30 minutes or until they are tender.
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