A beginner’s guide to zucchini squash! How to choose, store, cut, cook with, and eat zucchini or courgette. Plus recipe ideas!
Hi, Rhubarbarians! Here is the first of a new series on the blog: ingredient features. We thought it would be cool to spotlight a different seasonal item and fill you in all the deets so you can cook through the seasons like a pro. Huzzah! First up: zucchini!
What is zucchini?
Zucchini (aka courgette) is an edible summer squash from the cucurbitaceae family. You may be surprised to hear that it's a fruit! Yep! It's got thin skin, so the skin, flesh, seeds, and even blossoms are edible. It can be eaten raw or cooked and has a very mild flavor, so it pairs well with strong flavors. There are many varieties of zucchini, but the most common is black beauty zucchini.
When is zucchini in season?
Zucchini is a warm weather plant that is in season during the summer months. You can usually find it at your farmers market from July to September. They can grow to be very large, but are usually picked while they are immature, about 6-12 inches long.
How to pick out the perfect zucchini
You will most likely see black beauty zucchini at your grocery store, the long and thin green zucchini.
- Look for dark green, unblemished, smooth skin. Zucchini is fragile, and will start to soften and get soggy if it has blemishes.
- Look for 6-8 inches in length. Zucchini can become watery and pulpy when it gets very large, but this size will be great for eating.
- It should feel pretty heavy for it's size. Zucchini is mostly water, so a fresh one should feel heavier than you would think. If it's shriveled or light in weight, it's probably not very fresh.
- Make sure the stem stump is still attached. Once the flesh of zucchini is exposed to air, water will begin to sweat out. So make sure the stem hasn't been removed.
How to store zucchini
Zucchini is fragile and made up of mostly water, so you'll want to follow these tips to store them properly.
- Keep the zucchini in the refrigerator for up to one week. They are best in the crisper drawer, but don't overcrowd or jostle them around a lot or you can cause blemishes on the skin.
- Store in a paper bag or a mesh bag rather than a plastic bag. Plastic can cause the zucchini to become slimy.
- Don't wash zucchini until right before you eat them. You want them to stay as dry as possible!
How to cut a zucchini
- Diced zucchini: Great for salads, sautes, or soups.
- Round slices: Use these for zucchini chips or cut them in half and stir fry.
- Zucchini "ribbons": Perfect raw in salads, quickly sauteed, or added to pasta.
- Zucchini spears: Zucchini fries!
- Zoodles: AKA zucchini noodles. Or spiralized zucchini. Perfect for a pasta substitute!
- zucchini boats: Great for stuffing the zucchini with goodies and roasting.
- Shredded zucchini: Perfect for baking with zucchini!
Must-try zucchini recipes
- Minestrone soup: This recipe uses diced zucchini for perfect bite-sized pieces in the soup.
- Cheesy zucchini chips: Perfect use for those sliced rounds or coins!
- Zucchini ribbon salad: So fresh and summery! A great way to use thinly sliced zucchini ribbons.
- Grilled zucchini spears with lemon salt: A wonderful side dish at your next bbq!
- Thai peanut zoodles: A low carb replacement for noodles in this fantastic dish.
- Buffalo chickpea zucchini boats: Spicy chickpeas stuffed into a zucchini? Yes please!
- Zucchini bread: Shredded zucchini gets hidden in this fantastic quick bread.
If you have any more questions or tips about zucchini, please let me know on social media or in the comments below! Leave a star rating in your comment or tag me on Instagram with #Rhubarbarians.
Thank you so much for reading and supporting Rhubarbarians and the brands that I recommend. If you’re looking for a group of people cooking vegetarian recipes through the seasons, join us on Facebook in our vegetarian and vegan recipes group!
You'll be a zucchini pro in no time!
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