Taking a trip to the very end of the culinary alphabet, you might at first glance have trouble thinking of foods that begin with the letter Z. There are, however, numerous culinary delights that start with this particular letter. As you make your way through this list, you’ll find your world opened up to a range of dishes you might try making for the first time. Armed with the right ingredients from the local market, you can whip up some exotic meals that will leave your family and friends clamoring for more. Here are 17 foods that start with Z.
What Foods Begin With The Letter Z?
Zucchini is a delightful vegetable often grown in summer gardens in in a variety of hardiness zones. When picked from the vine at a moderate size, it remains tender and can be cooked up in several different ways. It is most often roasted or steamed and will go well with chicken, fish, or another main dish. Alternatively, zucchini can be roasted and then incorporated into a pasta sauce for use on spaghetti. Zucchini comes in a few different varieties, so if you are growing it from seed you’ll want to make sure you pick one that is resistant to disease and wilting. Zucchini has also hit the number 1 spot on our substitutes for mushrooms post.
Related: Zucchini recipes to make at home
Ziti is a particular kind of pasta that is used in Italian cuisine. Baked ziti, in fact, is a popular party dish. It can be placed in a casserole dish and baked with cheese, sauce, and perhaps even roasted tomatoes to create a great dish. It is about the same size is penne and can also act as a good substitute for rigatoni. If you are going to boil it in water and use it with an Alfredo sauce, make sure to cook it according to the directions on the package.
If you’ve ever made a lemon tart, you’ll want it to have a nice, sweet taste with just a touch of sourness. Zest is a good way to achieve this flavor. Simply rub the lemon rind against a grater until you have a few teaspoons of zest. You’ll generally want to avoid rubbing the lemon grind too hard, as this could cause some of the deeper bitter flavor to be incorporated into your pie or cake. For desserts, a light, airy flavor is the goal.
For those people who love fish and want to branch out and try a new variety, Zander might be just what you’re looking for. It is a light, delicate fish with few bones and works well with many different sauces. Tartar sauce, ketchup, and even a lemon-garlic marinade will go well with this particular fish. Grill it over an open flame until it is golden brown in the middle and just beginning to show a crispiness around the edges.
5. Zinfandel Grapes
If you love grapes, you’ll want to try the Zinfandel variety at some point in your life. The wine that is crafted from this grape has a delightful punchy feel to it. You can bring it out at dinner parties pair it with many different dishes. Ensure that it is properly chilled so that the flavor reaches its full potential. The grape itself is a black-skinned wine grape that grows nicely in most Mediterranean-like climates.
6. Zigzag Vine Fruit
If you’ve really like to eat outside the box, you might be intrigued by the eastern Australia zig-zag fruit. Growing on clusters in an oddly shaped vine, it is often used to give sauces a sherbet flavor. If you get a chance to visit Australia, you might be able to see it growing directly in the rain-forest. The fruit itself is a relatively vibrant orange color that should be easy to spot against the surrounding greenery.
For a taste of provincial Italy, try one of their elegant deserts. Zucotto, which tastes as good as it looks, fits the bill perfectly. The dessert incorporates both cake and ice cream and is designed to look like a miniature pumpkin. It is usually chilled and then served semi-frozen so that the ice cream continues to hold its form and texture. Zucotto is a true representation of the culinary achievements of the Italian peninsula.
If you want a blast from the past, consider Zima, one of the biggest beers of the past decades. As a carbonated beverage, it bridges the gap between beer and pop. Zima was popular in the mid 1990s and came back for a brief period of 2017 and 2018. It continues to provide fond memories to people who grew up with the alternative music of two decades ago.
Zeppole is yet another Italian culinary item that will send taste-buds through the roof. This particular dessert consists of a deep-fried ball of dough that is almost always topped with powdered sugar and another filling, typically custard, jelly or honey. The smooth cream on top is meant to combine perfectly with the crispy dough underneath. If you visit a large city that happens to have an authentic Italian bakery, be sure to stop in and try a few zeppole. You’ll be glad you did.
Moving to the Middle East gives us the wonderful Turkish dessert zerde, which is a true gift from the gods. The dish is akin to a sweet puddings and is very popular weddings. If you like rice pudding, you will probably enjoy this dish. When properly made, it usually takes on a light yellow color. When visiting Turkey, you might find that the ingredients for this dish vary a bit from region from region, but this is normal for any large country. You’ll be able to sample different options and choose one you like the best going forward.
For the bread lovers here, Zopf can’t be beat. Originating from Switzerland, it superficially resembles a Challah bread but is made from yeast, butter, flour, eggs, and milk. The characteristic brown top is obtained by brushing the dough with egg yolks. There are numerous online recipes that will guide you through the bread-making process step by step. This particular bread is not sweet and goes great alongside soups and stews.
12. Zesta Saltines
Saltines are sometimes under-appreciated, but they come in handy in a variety of situations. Zesta crackers are just a tad bit crunchier than the others, and this is what makes them ideal for sprinkling over soups or salads. In fact, Zesta Saltines and tomato soup go together like peas and carrots, especially when the weather is rainy or a little chilly. Cook a steamy pot of soup and then fill your bowl with Saltines and perhaps just a dab of shredded cheddar cheese.
Zarzuela is a lovely Spanish seafood stews that shows off everything the country has to offer. In fact, the dish is usually made with scallops and mussels alongside perhaps a bit of white wine and red bell peppers. If you wish to try your hand at making this dish, you should always make sure that you choose white wine instead of red wine, as this makes all the difference when it comes to flavor. Cut your red bell peppers into manageable chunks.
14. Zucchini Bread
One of the easiest and tastiest breads to make is zucchini bread. When the recipe is just right, the bread should come out moist and delicious. Eating zucchini bread alongside a bit of melted butter should make the perfect afternoon snack. Use a tin that is the proper size for a small to medium shortbread.
Are you in the mood for a German cookie? Try a zimtsterne if you have the opportunity. Often known as cinnamon stars, these cookies will cure anything. In fact, though Germany is known for its sausages, the country has an excellent reputation for tasty baked goods, and you do not want to miss trying something sweet. Visit one of the bakeries in Berlin or Munich early in the day when you’ll have your choice of delicacies.
Consider giving Zoni a try if you ever visit Japan. Zoni is a moderately rich soup which is often served with rice cake cakes. Though sushi is highly sought-after in Japan, it sometimes pays to branch out a bit and try other aspects of a culture’s food. Zoni is available in most locations throughout the country, and you’ll be pleased you sampled it.
We end our list with Zingers, an old stand-by snack which can usually be found in every corner gas station. The rich, creamy center is surrounded by a ball of chocolate that supports icing on top. Though perhaps less well-known than the Twinkie, they are simply delightful when allowed to melt in the mouth. Look for them near the snack section near other popular items such as the oatmeal cream pies.
Ziti is a type of pasta that is often used in baked dishes. Originating from Italy, Ziti is tube-shaped and is traditionally served in dishes like lasagna and baked ziti, a cheesy casserole-like dish.
Zest refers to the outer, colored part of the peel of a citrus fruit. It’s often used in cooking for its flavorful oils. It adds a fresh, tangy flavor to both sweet and savory dishes and is a common ingredient in recipes ranging from cakes to cocktails.
Zander is a type of fish, similar to perch, found in Europe. It’s known for its firm, white flesh and delicate, mild flavor. Zander is often grilled, pan-fried, or baked and is a popular choice for fish and chips.
21. Zinfandel Grapes
Zinfandel Grapes are a variety of black-skinned wine grape. Known for their rich, dark color and robust flavor, they’re primarily used to produce Zinfandel, a type of red wine.
22. Zigzag Vine Fruit
Zigzag Vine Fruit is a tropical fruit native to Australia. Known for its unique zigzag patterned vine, the fruit itself is small, round, and has a sweet, tangy flavor.
Zucotto is a dome-shaped Italian dessert made with sponge cake and ice cream or whipped cream. The cake is often soaked in liqueur for added flavor, and it might be filled with nuts, chocolate, or fruit.
Zima is a clear, lightly carbonated alcoholic beverage made and distributed by the Coors Brewing Company. Introduced in the 1990s as an alternative to beer, Zima is known for its clean, refreshing taste.
Zeppole is a deep-fried Italian doughnut often filled with cream or jelly. They are traditionally served on Saint Joseph’s Day in Italy but are enjoyed year-round around the world.
Zerde is a Turkish dessert similar to rice pudding. It’s yellow in color, made with rice, sugar, and saffron, and is often served at weddings and other special occasions.
Zopf is a type of Swiss bread made from plaited dough. Traditionally eaten on Sundays, Zopf is known for its beautiful braided appearance and soft, fluffy interior.
Having read through the list, you can make plans to sample all the wonderful Z foods. Beginning with zucchini and perhaps working your way through to something more exotic like Zoni, you’ll feel closer to the heart-beat of the world. You might even start a cultural food club involving family and friends on a certain night each month to explore your taste buds!