A panel of experts commissioned by Mr Kitchen Hand has come up with a definitive list of the world's top ten best-loved vegetables.
The panel was plied with pizza and red wine during a marathon session behind locked doors before announcing the results. We commence the countdown at No. 10, below.
The Top Ten Vegetables of All Time
NO. 10: ZUCCHINI.
Zucchini is the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of the vegetable world. Boil the hell out of it and you'll serve up a bland vegetable with a slightly bitter aftertaste - and you'll never cook it again.
But treat it with the respect this green marrow-like vegetable deserves, and it turns into a completely different article.
Marry zucchini with fiery flavours, barbecue it after marinading it, or stuff it with ... just about anything. Cheap, easy to cook, and widely available, the zucchini deserves its place in the Top Ten, despite the reservations of some of the panel.
Sounds innocuous, but makes a great side dish for a lamb roast.
Slice two large zucchini into rounds, put in a pot with two medium sliced onions, two tablespoons of butter, a dash of dried chervil (or use dill or other fragrant herb), a pinch of cayenne, a teaspoon of sugar, a tablespoon of chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Add a few tablespoons of water. The idea is to soften the zucchini and onion gently so that they take up the flavours slowly. You end up with a buttery texture and magnificent flavour.
Stuffed zucchini with raisins.
Zucchinis grow quite large but are harvested at half their natural size. If you have larger ones (not too large - they turn into solid baseball bats), stuff and bake them. Try this Sicilian recipe for a change.
Take three large zucchinis, trim ends, slice two of them in two down the middle, and scoop out the pulp to produce a canoe shape with a quarter-inch shell.
Chop the third zucchini and the pulp of the first two.
Meanwhile, plump a heaping tablespoon of raisins in warm water.
Heat some olive oil in a pan, add the chopped zucchini, a chopped onion, and a scored clove of garlic. Sauté while stirring.
Add the raisins, a tablespoon of toasted pine nuts, a tablespoon of chopped mint, a pinch of chilli powder, salt and pepper. Stir. Add two tablespoons of white wine. Stir.
Now add a quarter cup of breadcrumbs and a tablespoon of grated parmigiano or packet parmesan. You want a firm consistency. Adjust with small additions of breadcrumbs and cheese.
Press into zucchini canoes, mounding them up. Place them on an oiled baking tray and place in oven. When doing this, try not to let the canoes slide off your baking tray, which is now effectively an oiled slipway. This happened to me the first time I did these.
Bake 30 minutes. Finish under a grill to brown.
All right, the pedants are on to us. Zucchini is actually a fruit, but that is only its botanical descriptor. The judging panel's position on the matter is: if it tastes like a vegetable and it looks like a vegetable, it is a vegetable. No correspondence will be entered into. Judges' decision is final. See PDS for details. This product may not be right for you. Etc, etc. Blah, blah. Several vegetables were harmed during the making of this survey. Terms and conditions apply. LMCT5555.