Z IS A TRICKY LETTER FOR A SUPERFOOD, SO WE’VE CHEATED SLIGHTLY AND CHOSEN COURGETTE, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS ZUCCHINI IN AMERICA. WE KNOW YOU’LL FORGIVE US WHEN YOU DISCOVER ALL THE BENEFITS THIS VERSATILE VEG WILL BESTOW ON YOUR HEALTH AND YOUR PLATE.
Courgettes are from the same family as cucumbers, squash and melon. This means they are high in water, tender and very easy to cook. They come in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes (just like people!) but the most common are the green cucumber-like ones.
Courgettes are technically a fruit, as they grow from a flower, and you can also eat the blossoms. They are in season between June and September, but can be bought in supermarkets all year round.
While they don’t contain the nutritional punch of other green vegetables, courgettes do contain significant levels of magnesium and potassium which can help normalise blood pressure and slash your stroke risk. Just one cup of sliced courgette will give you 33mg of immune-boosting vitamin C. The bulk of the nutrients is in the peel so leave this on when you can.
Courgettes are the perfect food for weight-loss. The soluble fibre in the skin slows digestion, therefore stabilising blood sugar levels and insulin. Containing just 17 calories per 100g, you can stuff yourself silly on them without laying on the pounds.
Lab studies show that squashes – including courgettes – have anti cancer properties which may help inhibit lung and colon cancer. It has anti-oxidants that slow down the ageing process and helps reconstruct brain cells.
2. HOW CAN I COOK COURGETTES?
You can do pretty much anything with courgettes - just don’t boil them! The soft flesh and dark green skin are both edible so there’s no preparation required.
They can be roasted, fried , steamed, stir-fried, blanched, and used to bulk out soups and stews. You can also use them raw in salads or as crudités, and include them in tarts and rice dishes. Their mild flavour means they can even be added to breads and cakes.
3. RECIPE IDEAS
Although their growing season is summer, courgettes are great in recipes all year round. Try a nutritious Zucchini and Sweet Potato Soup for lunch, or start the day with a Big breakfast courgette and potato rosti.
The tastiest way to cook courgettes is to retain their crunch. Slice them into chips, drizzle with olive oil, salt and herbs, then heat under the grill until golden. Enjoy!
I'd never thought about them being a fruit. I know you can deep-fry the flowers but that doesn't seem the healthiest option. However summer courgettes, in olive oil, with feta and tomato...bliss!
I wondered why you were using the American name - love it! I enjoy courgettes although it is hard to find non-watery ones at this time of year. Roll on summer and tasty courgettes!