Thursday, February 2, 2006
Zucchini, Courgette or Marrow?
Until recently, I did not know the difference between a marrow, a zucchini or a courgette. David pointed out that all three come from the same plant (summer squash of the cucurbit family) and are given names depending on their stages of growth. They can either be yellow or green and generally have similar shape to a ridged cucumber. The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash or immature marrow. Courgette, on the other hand, is French term for zucchini. The term squash comes from the Indian skutasquash meaning "green thing eaten green."
These days, commercial growers have standardized their terminology relating to courgettes, zucchinis and marrows:
Courgettes are the baby fruit of several types of marrow, harvested when they are 14 x 4 cm long, the size of a cigar.
Zucchinis are the fruits of the same plant harvested when they are 15 to 20 cm long.
Marrows are the semi-mature fruits which have reached full size.
We grew the yellow zucchini this year and were blessed with a good harvest. The first few zucchinis we picked were nice and tender, with blemish free skin and bright yellow color. They had a light and delicate flavor and are best steamed and served with other veggies as side dish. Once, we overlooked an overgrown zucchini probably because it was shaded by the plant's huge leaves. David suggested that we leave it and see what would happen.
A couple weeks later, it grew big and fat measuring 15 inches long. It was a marrow. A few days later, we harvested it with the intent to bake it. Unfortunately, we lost the recipe passed on to him by his sister, so we had to do some research for ways to cook marrows. We found several from the net but settled with this recipe from "The Cook's Garden". The procedure was altered to simplify it.
RECIPE FOR STUFFED MARROW
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tb butter
250 g minced pork
60 g mushrooms, chopped
1 tb chopped thyme
50 g soft breadcrumbs
fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 small egg
2 tb butter, melted
Slice the marrow down the middle (lengthways) and use a teaspoon to dig out the seeds.
Saute onion in butter, then add mince pork and mushrooms. Cook until browned. Add remaining ingredients except for the melted buter. Mix thoroughly.
Pre-heat overn at 190 degrees. Spread remaining butter on a tin foil. Pack the stuffing into the marrow, then wrap it with the foil. Bake. Small marrow will need 45 minutes. A larger one will need 1 1/2 hours. Slice and serve the stuffed marrow with Neopolitan sauce.
250 g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp cooking oil
1 tsp chopped basil or parsley
Heat oil in pan. Saute garlic, then add the tomatoes. Add basil or parsley and serve.
This sauce is also great with spaghetti and topped with grated cheese.