botanical name: Cucurbita pepo
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Marrow is a plant widely cultivated on Italian soil, whose fruits are often used as a condiment and as a main dish, thanks to the excellent nutritional properties. Its optimal conditions mirror those of many territories: prolonged exposure to sunlight and enough wind. Being an annual plant, it exceeds the initial part of his life relatively quickly, and it's in fact cultivated usually during the warm seasons of the year, in order to bear fruit and blossom before winter. The right soil is of medium texture, not too humid, so the marrow it's also easy to cultivate and, if left in optimal conditions, there will be a yield of over thirty fruits per plant, as long as you leave the land on which the plant will expand free from other crops.
Origins and history
Since remote times (more than 10,000 years ago) Native American civilizations cultivated this climbing plant to overcome much of their nutritional requirements. Presumably, the species Cucurbita pepo is the evolution of a wild species already present in nature, but adapted to growing in the gardens, something in which the civilizations of Central America excelled.
Despite being cultivated for the consumption of the seeds, it began to eat the fruits later export to Europe, which took place about in 1500. Although the plant forms in themselves are always similar, there are different types of fruit: the varieties the best known is that of the Sicilian marrow (lighter in color), the black of Milan and the round of Piacenza and Florence.
Nutritional properties and benefits
Marrow is widely used in cooking thanks to its nutritional value, making it a perfect component for soups, salads and side sauces for pasta. Being composed for the most part by water, it will be light in any recipe is inserted enriching the intake of protein, but at the same time giving a longer sweet taste due to the concentration of carbohydrates.
Of 100 g, there is a concentration of protein that is between 1 g and 1.5 g, with an amount almost equal to carbohydrates. The fibers are limited to 1% of the total composition. Furthermore, this variety of vegetables appears to be an excellent source of potassium and folic acid, as well as vitamins A and C.
The use of marrow in cooking
In the most common recipes this particular vegetable it's always a secondary dressing, but it plays a vital role in balancing the flavors. Even if slight, in fact, the flavor can balance largely of savory ingredients, thanks to the composition containing large amounts of water.
The most common uses are those that provide this vegetables cut into chunks or slices and added directly in the preparation of soups, soups and salads.
More elaborate recipes instead see the fruit emptied and filled with other vegetables with meat touches like mortadella. Moreover, it can be cut into slices and joined mozzarella, tomato juice and Emmental to be fired so as to form a Parmesan. The marrow is also used in the preparation of various recipes that they see added to a dough. In fact, you can cook a quiche if it joins the pecorino and other herbs. The uses of this vegetable are numerous, and in fact, it can be grilled, steamed or even fried.
The oriental kitchen, for example, use this vegetable in tempura batter covering it. A more traditional way to serve it is to "alla Scapece", typically Neapolitan, where the fruit becomes a starter thanks to frying and marinating with oil and vinegar before the meal. The plant flowers can be fried, and thus usable for pancakes and omelets along with the fruit itself.
The recipe of zucchini "alla Scapece" was mentioned in another Totò film, "A Neapolitan Turkish." In the scene of the preparation of marriage, are placed in a list of the foods the groom doesn't like the "Cocozzelli alla Scapese", which are nothing but pickled marrows.
This is because, apparently, the famous actor was going crazy, much to want to pay homage to the traditional cuisine devoting to the recipe a short space in the film.