Squash in Italian is “zucco”, so everyone assumes that it came from Italy, but the origin of zucchini (also called Summer squash) dates back to 5500 BC in Central and South America (source: University of Arizona).
Zucchini has many shapes and sizes. Pattypan squash is in the same Summer squash family as yellow squash, Summer crooknecks and Italian zucchini, oblong, long & skinny, and giant size if you leave them on the vine a long time. It is one of the most versatile vegetables of all time! It can be baked, broiled, grilled, sautéed, eaten raw, seeds roasted, shredded for bread, made into zoodles (zucchini noodles spiraled or sliced and used in place of lasagna noodles).
Almost forgot my favorite…zucchini blossoms! When picking them, you will need to know that the blossoms on the stems are the male ones and the blossoms on the end of the zucchini (see picture with baby zucchini) are the female ones. As you can see, the female blossoms “give birth” to the baby zucchini and when they grow big enough, the “mom” blossom dies . So, if you pick those, you won’t have any zucchini. But, you want to leave some of the male blossoms out there, too. The bees fertilize the blossoms by going from the males to the females. (my background as an OB Nurse ). Love to sauté the blossoms and add to pasta dishes or stuff them, dip them in beer batter and give them a quick fry!
Summer squashes have a mild flavor and are somewhat absorbent, so they take on the flavors of whatever you cook them with. Pretty awesome, huh? So, fresh herbs, flavored olive oils, curries, meats, cheeses…you name it! As a Personal Chef, I frequently assume since zucchini has been around for-ever, that everyone has tried them, but I am amazed at the people that have NOT!! Once I prepare zucchini/Summer squash for them, they are sold, so t r u s t me and please give them a chance!
Preparing the Zucchini
Here are a number of ways they can be prepared: Zucchini Involtini (like eggplant…hint: grill the slices); Roast the seeds with your favorite seasonings; baked Creole-style; stuffed and baked or grilled; fresh w/dip or in salads; zucchini bread/muffins (and you can freeze them after shredding to enjoy it year round); in any pasta dish, raw or cooked!
Here’s one great recipe, but if you are interested in more, feel free to email me or if you are reading this from my website instead of my special friend list, ask for them through the “contact” page!