The baby marrow, also known as the zucchini or courgette, is a type of summer squash harvested before it reaches its full size. Most baby zucchinis are deep or light green, but a specific variation called a "golden zucchini" ranges from light orange to deep yellow in color. While individuals can enjoy this vegetable raw, many prefer to use it as an ingredient in baked goods or savory side dishes.
Fully grown marrow plants can reach up to 3 feet (approximately 1 meter) in length, but by that point, the vegetable loses most of its flavor. Many gardeners prefer to harvest the plant during its "baby" stage, when it ranges between 3 to 10 inches (approximately 7.5 to 25 centimeters). A baby marrow can take from 12 to 14 weeks to reach this length, so many gardeners plant the seeds in the spring and harvest the vegetable throughout the summer. Larger marrows can still be harvested and used in recipes, but after this vegetable reaches lengths of more than 15 inches (approximately 38 centimeters), the taste becomes significantly blander.
The texture and taste of baby marrow does permit individuals to eat the vegetable raw, but typically, the plant is cooked or baked before consumption. Smaller zucchinis are often steamed, boiled, sautèed, or grilled alongside other summer vegetables and served as a side dish. Larger baby zucchinis can be stuffed and baked. Many individuals also opt to grate or shred the vegetable into finely and bake it into a bread, similar in density to banana bread.
This squash is especially popular in North America and Britain, but it makes an appearance in the native cuisine of many countries. Cooks making ratatouille, a warm dish originating in France, sautè baby zucchini with tomato, garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrot, and eggplant. Typically, this zucchini-based dish is served as a side, but it may also be used as a filling for omelets and crepes or as a main dish. Some hot salads served in Vietnamese and Thai cuisines also make use of the baby marrow. Cooks making Turkish mücver, a type of fritter or pancake, must shred the zucchini into fine pieces, similar to the way it is prepared for zucchini bread.
In Italy, the vegetable is frequently breaded and lightly fried. Slices of baby marrow can also be battered and deep fried as part of Japanese tempura, and the edible flowers that grow on the the courgette plant can be fried and consumed as tempura, as well. Zucchini flowers are also stuffed and baked in Greek cuisine and used in Mexican soups.