Prefer the paler version when you can get it, because it has a richer, fuller taste. Size is important. A very large zucchini is watery and bland, while the appeal of a baby vegetable is prevalently ornamental. Choose zucchini that are about one and half inches thick and not more than seven inches long. The skin should look glossy and free of nicks, scrapes, and dents. Look at the end that was attached to the stem.

The blossoms of the zucchini or squash plant are also edible. The bright yellow flower that emerges directly from the ends of the zucchini as they issue from the plant is the female blossom. A second, slightly smaller flower is attached to a slender stalk that grows from the stem of the plant. The blossoms you choose for the kitchen must be firm, not limp, and both the petals and the pistils must be colored a very bright yellow. Remove the pistils, because they are slightly bitter.

(From the book, “Ingredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market” by Marcella Hazan & Victor Hazan)