One of the most ubiquitous summer fruits, the zucchini (cucurbita pepo) is a long, green summer squash of Italian origin with many culinary uses. It’s usually prepared as a vegetable in savory dishes like ratatouille, casseroles and fritters, but it can also be shredded and used in sweeter dishes like zucchini bread. The best zucchini to purchase (or pick, if you have a garden of your own) are less than 8 inches long. This means the squash is immature and the seeds are still soft. Larger zucchini (They can grow up to a few feet in length!) tend to be more fibrous and woody than their smaller and more tender counterparts.
Zucchini is a healthful, low-calorie fruit containing folate, potassium and vitamin A. Like many other fruits and vegetables, much of the nutritional value is found in the peel, so keep it on to get all the nutrients you can. One whole zucchini is only 16 calories!
Zucchini squash blossoms are also edible. These grow directly on the plant and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are commonly stuffed with soft cheeses and fried. If you can find them, the flowers are a beautiful summer treat.