These green vegetables are actually a fruit as they are the swollen ovaries of the courgette plant’s flowers. In the UK and France they are called courgettes, while in the States they are zucchini from the Italian zucchino, or Italian squash. In Urdu they are hari tori while the Greeks call them kolokithakia. They are related to the melons and cucumbers and also the other squashes and gourds such as petha or ash gourd and the pumpkin. They were developed by the Italians from the marrow or winter squash which can grow to enormous sizes.
  The flowers are edible and can be stuffed with cream cheese, coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, or cooked with the leaves and eaten as a green vegetable.
  The courgette is bland and so was not greatly admired by the French until chefs began to realize that the small fresh young courgettes were actually very tasty. In Britain they were popularized by Elizabeth David who was a keen Mediterranean cookery writer in the 1950s and 60s. She helped to promote the aubergine and courgette in Britain at a time when the middle-classes were beginning to take foreign, and mostly Mediterranean, holidays. While marrows were a popular winter vegetable in Britain, courgettes were not eaten on the whole. Elizabeth David brought moussaka and ratatouille to the attention of British cooks and these soon grew in popularity although the Brits still adhere to their root vegetables, parsnips, carrots and swedes, and turnips to a lesser extent and the brassicas, cabbage and broccoli for example.
  The courgette originated from the giant pumpkin grown in Central and South America which has its origins between 7000 and 5500 BC. Christopher Columbus took the seeds with him to Spain and Africa in the 15th century and since then they have been cultivated in those regions.
  Courgettes contain the precursors of vitamin A as well as vitamins C and K, some of the B-complex vitamins and folate. They are rich in minerals, notably potassium and manganese, but they also contain calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. They also have amino acids and Omega-3 fatty acid in them. The yellow and orange varieties of courgette are rich in beta-carotene, which is useful in combating cholesterol and reducing the advancement of atherosclerosis.
  Folate is useful for breaking down a dangerous metabolic by-product, homocysteine which is thought to contribute to the risk of heart attacks and strokes when the levels of it are too high in the body.
   Vitamin C and beta-carotene have powerful antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory action, so are good for sufferers of asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 
  The juices from courgettes are similar to those found in leeks, pumpkins and radishes such as mooli or daikon radish, which have the ability to prevent cell mutations which may cause the growth of cancerous cells. Courgettes eaten with other phytonutrient rich vegetables may help in the treatment and reduction of Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (BPH) or an enlarged prostate gland which causes both urinary problems and sexual dysfunction according to modern medical research.
  Courgettes continue to evolve today with new varieties being bred, such as the golden and orange as well as round varieties. They can be eaten raw in salads, especially the small tender ones, and are good to include in tuna sandwiches, grated. They are particularly good with pine nuts which have been lightly fried in olive oil, or toasted. You can use them in moussaka instead of aubergines, and there is a recipe for vegetarian moussaka which uses courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes and potatoes. They are good with pasta and fennel too with lots of garlic an olive oil. In Greece and Turkey they are thinly sliced lengthways and fried in olive oil along with aubergine slices treated in the same way, then drained and served with natural yoghurt and topped with fresh coriander leaves or flat-leaved parsley, served as an appetizer. Try the recipe below to give them a different taste.

2 medium-sized courgettes, sliced
¼ pint brown (dark) beer (You can use Guinness if necessary)
200 gr flour
parsley, finely chopped
oil for frying

Mix the flour with a little water and whisk. Add the beer and whisk until the mixture is foaming. Leave to settle and chill for an hour.
Dip the courgette slices in the batter and then fry in hot oil for a few seconds on either side until the batter is crisp and brown.
Drain on absorbent kitchen paper and serve as an appetizer, with drinks or as a side dish. 
Sprinkle with parsley or add the parsley to the batter with the beer.
There have Taste and are a Treat.

No comments:

Post a Comment