Zucchini – still very underrated by many
Zucchini in Italian means small squash. The term squash itself comes from the Native American Indian: skutasquash which means:
“Green thing eaten green”
Courgette, as the French refer to it is derived from: courge which means gourd. The Spanish call it calabaza which gets its origin from Arabic, also meaning gourd. In Latin it is cucurbita.
Its origin is believed to be from Central America, being part of the pre-Columbian food trio of beans, maize and squash, also known as the ” three sisters” and still a dominant ingredient in the cuisine of these regions.
It is a summer squash and botanically actually a fruit, although from a culinary point of view we usually treat it as a vegetable. Like the tomato, it was a new world discovery which Christopher Columbus brought back to the Mediterranean. The modern variety we know today was developed by the Italians. It is very low in calories, contains vitamin A & C and potassium. Central and South Americans have enjoyed zucchini/courgettes for thousands of years – probably because its uses are extremely versatile. The flowers as much as the fruit itself is edible. It is best picked and eaten young before it becomes a woody and tasteless marrow. Zucchinis are probably best know as an ingredient in ratatouille but their use does not stop there. They can be fried, stuffed, battered, griddled, stewed, roasted you name it. Mediterranean and middle eastern cuisine have really embraced this fruit/vegetable and one can find some delightful recipes in their culinary archives. In addition to this, it is also the perfect ingredient for baking such things as muffins and bread.
Since my zucchini/courgette plants are still producing and I hate to waste them I like using them in my bread baking. My glut of them inspired me the other day to develop the recipe below, which BTW I had a great time developing with the BreadStorm app ( more of which on my first ever post) makes a great bread which is particularly tasty when toasted! I like using it in pan con tomate when serving tapas, makes a nice change from the plain white 🙂
Another thing I really like about zucchini is that by being bland they marry well with all sorts of different spices. People often shun them for their blandness when they really should be experimenting and exploiting their blandness in all sorts of adventurous ways!
- In a large bowl (kitchen aid bowl in my case) dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
- Measure the white bread flour and wholemeal and mix together. Then add some to the yeast mixture to make a paste.
- Measure zucchini, ricotta and yoghurt into a bowl/jug and the chef (sourdough starter) along with chive mix (all chopped up) mix, to taste really. Then make sure you mix and combine these thoroughly with the salt.
- Add zucchini mix into yeast paste and stir well together with a fork.
- Start to knead zucchini mix with dough hook and add the measured flour gradually. Allow some autolyse rests in between.
- When all the flour is kneaded into a doughy state of affairs. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured board, give it a lit more kneading love until it feels smooth enough to roll into a ball and place to rest in an oiled bucket with a lid. Leave to prove until doubled in size.
- When doubled in size, divide the dough in two and shape them into loaf tins. Alternatively, roll one half into a bloomer shape and divide the other half into three and make baguettes out of them.
- Bake in a hot pre-heated oven 220C for 10 mins, then turn your bread around, bake another 10 mins with heat dropped to 180C until golden in colour. If you are baking a loaf or bloomer you will probably need another 10 mins. Baking times are always very subject to individual ovens.