In Italian, both zucchina (plural: zucchine) and zucchino (plural: zucchini) are used. I grew up calling this (now) beloved vegetable zucchine. Last spring I planted a few seedlings and during the summer I harvested some fruit, which was particularly satisfying. Zucchine are quite versatile: whether cooked simply or as part of a complex dish, they always shine.
My favorite way of preparing zucchine when I do not have a lot of time is the following. I spray a frying pan with olive oil, warm it up and add 2-3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. After a couple of minutes I add a pound and a half of zucchine, sliced, sprinkle some freshly-ground black pepper, and mix well. I then cook over low heat until the zucchine are tender. After turning off the heat, I add a quarter cup of chopped fresh prezzemolo (parsley), a tablespoon of minced fresh maggiorana (marjoram, shown in the photo) and a pinch of salt, mix well and serve as a side dish. Marjoram, which has become one of my favorite herbs, gives a distinctive note to this simple recipe. Its fragrance is sensitive to heat and that is why I add it at the very end. If I have leftovers, a rare event, I use them as base for a frittata.
I knew that in Sicily zucchine could be big, but I was not quite prepared for what I saw the other day at the market in Palermo: specimens of the zucchina lunga (photo above) can be two or three feet long. I really wish I had access to a kitchen where I could try my favorite recipe on this Brobdingnagian representative of the vegetable kingdom. The tender leaves of the zucchina lunga, called tenerumi, are also used as an ingredient in Sicilian dishes.
And let us not forget that fiori di zucca (zucchini blossoms) are also delicious, an additional virtue of zucchine, if we needed one.
This is my on-the-road entry for the two-year anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging, the famous weekly event started by magic Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. The festivities include an exciting name your favorite herb and vegetable election. Make sure you check the roundup: expect amazing food fireworks from around the world.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the zucchine a modo mio audio file [mp3].
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