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ZUCCHINI ...a bit difficult to grow but can fend off diabetes

By Shirley Hall Author of The New Caribbean Home Garden Handbook

Zucchini is a type of summer squash local Trinis are just beginning to see in the markets. It is pronounced zoo-kee-nee. Squash is separated into summer and winter types. Trinidadians are accustomed to winter squash such as the butternut. The long season, odd-shaped, hard skinned squash that stores well is usually referred to as winter squash. Smaller, short season types, which are eaten before the skin and seeds begin to thicken are the summer squashes. They have a mild, somewhat nutty taste that resembles corn.

The most common summer squash is zucchini squash that usually has smooth, thin, dark green skin and creamy white flesh. Zucchini is a member of the cucumber and melon family. Although zucchini has been grown in Central America for thousands of years, modern zucchini was developed in Italy. Squash developed varieties and a better taste as it spread throughout the Western Hemisphere. Christopher Columbus took squash back to Europe, and Portuguese and Spanish explorers took squash to the rest of the world. Zucchini is derived from the Italian word for pumpkin, ‘zucca’ and ‘ina’ is Italian for little.

Zucchini is a bit difficult to grow in Trinidad due to certain insects and the alternating weather of super hot and then very wet breeds various fungi. Squash will grow in almost any well-drained garden. One or two plants should be enough to supply any family. Be certain you have fresh first generation seeds as cross pollination of last year’s crop may give you a surprise this year. Second generation squash seeds may produce pumpkins. Since squash has shallow roots, prepare six inch high mounds about three feet apart by forking the soil. Place a shovel of rotted manure in the base. Plant four seeds about one inch below the surface. Use a fungicide every two weeks for the first six weeks to prevent powdery mildew. Just as the squash begins to vine, carefully pull dirt and mould the roots. Cucumber beetles and white fly are common pests that must be treated with chemicals. Water regularly and use a high nitrogen fertiliser mix every other week. 

Although these dark green squash can grow to a metre long, most are picked when they are small and tender. The record largest zucchini weighed 65 pounds and was seven feet ten inches long. A good zucchini should feel heavy with glossy, smooth skin without soft spots or bruises. Shredded or diced summer squash can be added to salads or sandwiches. They can also be steamed, boiled, baked, fried, and stuffed. Zucchini will keep for about five days in the fridge but it is best to use as soon as you bring it home.

Zucchini is 95 per cent water and has more potassium than a banana with only 17 calories per 100 grammes. 

If served with the skin, zucchini is a good source of vitamins A, C, B2, B6, folate, fibre, magnesium and manganese. It is fat free and low in sodium without any cholesterol. Summer squash’s magnesium has been shown to be helpful for reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Together with the potassium in summer squash, magnesium is also helpful for reducing high blood pressure. Zucchini is extremely high in natural pectin, which provides protection against diabetes and can help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.

 

as the squash begins to vine, carefully pull dirt and mould the roots. Cucumber beetles and white fly are common pests that must be treated with chemicals. Water regularly and use a high nitrogen fertiliser mix every other week. 

Although these dark green squash can grow to a metre long, most are picked when they are small and tender. The record largest zucchini weighed 65 pounds and was seven feet ten inches long. A good zucchini should feel heavy with glossy, smooth skin without soft spots or bruises. Shredded or diced summer squash can be added to salads or sandwiches. They can also be steamed, boiled, baked, fried, and stuffed. Zucchini will keep for about five days in the fridge but it is best to use as soon as you bring it home.

Zucchini is 95 per cent water and has more potassium than a banana with only 17 calories per 100 grammes. 

If served with the skin, zucchini is a good source of vitamins A, C, B2, B6, folate, fibre, magnesium and manganese. It is fat free and low in sodium without any cholesterol. Summer squash’s magnesium has been shown to be helpful for reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Together with the potassium in summer squash, magnesium is also helpful for reducing high blood pressure. Zucchini is extremely high in natural pectin, which provides protection against diabetes and can help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.

 

ZUCCHINI FRIED CUTTERS

Ingredients: one big zucchini about two pounds washed sliced into rounds or strips, one cup of flour, two eggs, a pinch of salt, and one cup oil for frying

Method: In a medium bowl place the Zucchini add salt, mix well and let sit for half an hour. Use paper towel remove the excess water from the squash. Beat eggs and dip the zucchini strips into the eggs, then roll it in the flour. In a medium skillet heat the oil until it starts to bubble. Carefully place zucchini pieces into oil and cook for two minutes on either side, till they are golden brown. Remove and serve as cutters warm or cold with a tangy dip.

 

SIMPLE 

ZUCCHINI 

BREAD

Ingredients: One packet cake mix, spice preferably or vanilla. Substitute one cup minced zucchini for liquid required and add a TB of powdered cinnamon. Follow cake mix directions and bake.

 

ZUCCHINI AND LENTILS

Ingredients: one medium zucchini chopped, half cup lentils, two cups of water, half TS turmeric, three TBS butter or ghee, two cloves of garlic minced, half hot pepper seeded and minced, one TS ginger minced, half TS curry masala, salt and other spices to taste

Method: In a four quart pot place the washed lentils in the water with the turmeric and bring to a boil. Simmer for half an hour until the lentils are tender. In a large skillet heat the butter and brown the onion with the garlic. Add the pepper, ginger, and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cooked lentils to the skillet stirring in the curry masala. Cook for 15 more minutes.

 

 

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