Courgette or zucchini are fruit from the summer squash from the Cucurbitaceae family, a vining herbaceous plant whose fruit are harvested when their immature seeds and epicarp (rind) are still soft and edible.
The plant was brought to Europe in about 1500 after the discovery of America.
The fruit are any shade of green (striped or uniform-coloured), though they also come in a golden variety of deep yellow or orange.
There are several different cultivars: the fruit may be long, round, pattypan (small, round and flattish) just as some examples.
Courgette are certainly one of the most digestible of vegetables and their low calorie count makes them a dieter’s delight—very fashionable these days, cut into thin strips and eaten sauced, as a substitute for spaghetti!
Courgette are one of the main ingredients in the famous French dish, ratatouille, and may be layered with tomatoes and cheese, like a Parmigiana, in place of aubergine – traditionally in Naples this is a white version without tomatoes and with a bechamel sauce.
Crisply browned and dressed with a shake of vinegar and a sprinkling of garlic, they are the lightly marinated summer dish of Italy’s south; or sautéed and tossed into a pasta sauce, like in Nerano—one of the most luscious summer pastas one could ask for.
Courgette may be stuffed with rice or with meat, then braised; they may be sliced, or shredded, squeezed of their excess water then baked with basil into a savoury tart, or a sweet tea loaf. Truly, they are one of the treasures of the summer kitchen.
They have a low caloric value and are made up of 95% water; they contain vitamins A, C and carotenoids.