What’s Up With Zucchini?

One of my favorite summer vegetables is zucchini. It’s also super-easy to grow if you have your own little organic garden. We’ve all probably had a neighbor or friend who grew it and was constantly trying to give it away. The mild flavor of it lends itself to many dishes. If you grow it yourself, use a trellis as it makes long vines.

Zucchini is a member of the summer squash family which also includes yellow crookneck squash (another favorite of mine!).  It’s an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A, potassium, calcium, iron, folate, copper, riboflavin, niacin, and phosphorous. That’s a lot of nutrition packed into a cute green package.

Italians first grew it for it’s blossoms which are very edible. However, zucchini actually is native to Central and South America. It was brought to Italy by the early explorers. Italians fell in love with it and it’s sometimes referred to as ‘Italian Squash’.

The flavor of zucchini is best when it is less than six inches long. They should be firm, but not hard. So if you grow it yourself or buy it at a produce stand, look for the smaller ones.

If you make your own Kim Chee, try putting some zucchini in it to replace some of the cabbage. I used to go to a Chinese restaurant that was owned by a Korean family. They always brought me some of their kim chee that wasn’t on the menu but they knew I liked it. You never knew what veggies were going to be in it. The zucchini version was my favorite.