Lebanese Zucchini

Lebanese Zucchini

The Lebanese zucchini (or “Koosa” in Arabic) is popular in Mediterranean & Middle-Eastern dishes. The immature fruit (being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower) is harvested when it reaches about 15cm in length. Middle-Eastern types are stocky, pale green, tapering ends with a thick dark green stem and have a similar shape to a ridged cucumber. They have smooth shiny skin and solid, crispy and flavourful flesh.

Lebanese Zucchini Plant

In a culinary context, the zucchini is treated as a vegetable, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. The younger and smaller the zucchini are, the softer and more flavoursome they will be. Zucchini are generally not peeled and it is best to cook them ‘plain’ either by steaming or pan-frying. Boiling isn’t recommended, as the zucchini become too watery.

Green Zucchini

Green Zucchini

The delicate flavour, soft shell and creamy white flesh of this zucchini is a perfect addition to any meal. The dark green skin of zucchini may also be naturally striped or speckled. All parts of the zucchini are edible, including the flesh, seeds and skin.

Golden Zucchini

Golden Zucchini

Golden Zucchini tastes excellent and can be eaten many ways. Raw with a dash of salt, steamed with a little butter and salt, battered and fried, baked and more. Fruits are medium-long, slender and cylindrical in shape. Bright golden colour and a delicious, distinctive zucchini flavor.

Zucchini Nutrition Information

Lebanese Zucchini Nutrition information

Zucchinis provide only 17 calories per 100g and are therefore one of the very low calories vegetable used during weight reduction and cholesterol control programs. They contain no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers.

Zucchini have a relatively moderate source of folates, consisting of 24 mcg or 6% of RDA per 100 g. Folates are important in cell division and DNA synthesis. When taken adequately before pregnancy, it can help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus. Zucchini are also a very good source of potassium, which is an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte; helping to reduce blood pressure and heart rates by countering effects of sodium.

Zucchinis, especially the golden skin variety, are rich in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds help scavenge harmful oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the body that play a role in aging and various disease process.

Fresh fruit is good source of anti-oxidant vitamin-C providing about 17.9 mcg or 30% of RDA per 100g. In addition, they are also good in B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc and potassium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids, helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.

Cooking Tips

In subtropical zones, you can sow seed from July through to March. In temperate zones (eg, Sydney) sow from September to January. In cold climates (eg, Tassie and mountains) sow from October to December.

Zucchini seeds are a bit bigger than pumpkin seeds and need to be planted about 2cm deep and laid flat. Seeds can take six to 10 days to germinate, but after that growth is quick. You can raise seed in pots then transplant them, but some gardeners sow three or four seeds in a small mound of soil, and after they sprout and get growing, they then get rid of the weakest seedlings and allow the strongest one to grow on. If planting several zucchini, space them 70cm apart.

Zucchini prefer well-drained, fertile, loose soil, high in organic matter with pH between 5.8 and 6.8. Plentiful and consistent moisture is needed from the time plants emerge until fruits begin to fill out. Zucchini like warm soil and are very sensitive to frost. So don’t be in a rush to plant early in spring. Wait until about 2 weeks after the last frost date.

Mulching plants helps to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Mounding soil around the base of the plants can discourage squash borers from laying eggs. Varieties including “Blackjack” and “Black Beauty” produce dark green zucchini and both crop well. Lebanese zucchini are light green, and “Golden” zucchini are yellow.

Plant zucchinis in a very sunny spot, in soil enriched with plenty of aged manure (eg, Dynamic Lifter) and compost. Zucchini need a steady water supply, so keep plants well-watered. To keep plants growing rapidly, give them monthly liquid feeds as well, or apply some more Dynamic Lifter around the base of plants each month.

Zucchini plants will start cropping within six to eight weeks after planting. These plants produce big yellow male and female flowers. To harvest, cut the zucchini off using a small, sharp knife.