We only had one speaker today, Suzanne Smith of Food for Thought Catering in Wheat Ridge Colorado. Suzanne talked to us today about the “small” summer squash Zucchini. Most people in the culinary world treat zucchini as a vegetable, meaning that it is cooked and presented as a savory dish or side dish. In reality, though the zucchini is an immature fruit, being that the fruit is the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower. The female flower is a golden blossom at the end of the zucchini, the male flower grows directly off the stalk in the leaf axils-where the leaf branches off and is slightly smaller than it’s female counterpart. Both flowers are edible and are used to garnish many dishes, the fresh firm blossoms that are only slightly opened are often cooked, with the pistils and stamens removed. There are many recipes that are used for the flowers, these include deep frying with a light tempera sauce or as fritters, they may be baked or used in soups, in Mexico they have a soup, sopa de flor de calabaza, which is quite popular across the country.

The zucchini fruit is naturally low in calories and contains follate, potassium, vitamin A and manganese, so it is a very good fruit for your body. When using the fruit of the zucchini plant as food they are picked under 8 inches in length and the seeds are immature. Mature zucchini can be as long as 3 feet long, but when they get to this size the they fruit can become very fibrous, the seeds become hard and can be very unappetizing. Unlike the cucumber, zucchini recipes  most often involve cooking the fruit and can be prepared with a variety of cooking techniques, such as steamed, broiled, grilled, stuffed and then baked and fried. It can also be incorporated into other dishes such as souffles, bread, or can even be incorporated into cake mixes. The zucchini has a very delicate flavor and to enjoy this fruit one can simply slice it up and toss it in a pan with a little butter or oil and fry it quickly. Some fun facts that Suzanne shared with us about the zucchini, in Britain a poll of 2000 people stated that the zucchini was the 10th favorite vegetable (yeah, it is a fruit). Next, is that in Italy, the zucchini is prepared in a variety of ways – mainly breaded and pan fried. Some restaurants in Rome specialize in deep frying the flowers, a specialty called fiori di zucca. In France, the zucchini is the main ingredient in ratatouille, which is a stew of summer fruits and vegetables prepared in olive oil and then cooked for an extended time over a low heat. This dish was originated near Nice and is used as a side dish or for lunch with bread. The French also are known for a dish called farcis, were they stuff the zucchini with meat , tomatoes and bell peppers. The Turkish people use zucchini in a popular dish called mucver or zucchini pancakes, made by shredding the zucchini and mixing it with flour and eggs then lightly frying the mixture in olive oil and served with yogurt. In Greece, they fry or boil the zucchini with other fruits, such as green chili peppers or eggplant. They also stuff the zucchini with minced meat, rice and herbs served with an avolemono sauce. In several areas in Greece, they also use the flowers stuffed with white cheese or a mixture of rice, herbs and minced meat, then deep fry them and serve with tomato sauce. Bulgarian dishes include the frying of the zucchinis and serving it with a dip made up of yogurt, garlic and dill or oven bake the zucchini sliced or grated, covered witha mixture of eggs, yogurt, flour and dill. For the traditional in us, Suzanne shared with us her Zucchini Bread recipe for us to try at home and here it is:

3 eggs

1cup oil

2 cups sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups zucchini shredded

3 cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

Mix the sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder together. Combine eggs, oil and vanilla – add to the flour mixture and mix until it’s all moist. Add the zucchini and bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins to 1 hour. This will make 4 small loaves or 2 large loaves.

If you need catering for any event, large or small, give Suzanne Smith at Food for Thought Catering a call and she will make your event a huge success!!

Suzanne Smith * Food for Thought Catering * 303.425.5442