Every summer, I hear the same complaints from people: “I have so much zucchini, I don’t know what to do with it all,” “I’m so tired of zucchini,” “There is so much, I have to give it all away,” and the ultimate complaint, “I don’t even like zucchini. It has no taste.” I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy for anyone who bemoans their overabundance of zucchini. I wish I had a garden loaded with zucchini, and I wish whomever was giving them away would send them to me. As for the people who don’t even like zucchini because they think it has no taste, well, I say think again.
Zucchini has a mild flavor and that means it goes well with everything. It also means that how you prepare it is key since it will take on the flavors that you add to it. When you look at it that way, zucchini is not bland; rather, it is a blank canvas on which to create edible masterpieces. Variety is also important. Anyone might get tired of any vegetable if it’s prepared the same way repeatedly. Fortunately, there are many ways to use zucchini and it will be new and different each time. So rather than lament over having too many zucchinis, try out these ideas for preparing them. After that, if you still feel you have too many, feel free to send them to me.
1. In Lieu of Noodles
One of my favorite ways of using zucchini is in place of noodles. You could use a spiralizer, but if you don’t have one, no worries. With a julienne peeler, you can quickly turn a zucchini into a pile of thin spaghetti-shaped strands. A regular peeler will give you wide shapes similar to pappardelle. You can eat your zucchini “pasta” raw topped with diced tomatoes and garlic or lightly cook them in a red pepper and garlic infused olive oil. Thin slices of zucchini can also replace the noodles to make a low-carb or carb-free veggie lasagna. Try making your own zucchini “pasta” and make this gluten-free, vegan Carbonara Spaghetti with Zucchini Noodles or this Basil Pesto Raw Zucchini Pasta.
2. Scoop ‘em and Stuff ‘em
The shape of a zucchini is perfect for making edible boats. Just slice off the center piece of one side of the zucchini and carefully scoop out the flesh to make a boat. Then stuff the boat with whatever veggies and grains you love such as a sauteed mix of quinoa, the scooped out zucchini, sundried tomatoes and chopped spinach. A stuffed zucchini boat makes a beautiful presentation and it’s super-fun to get to eat the container your dinner comes in.
3. Sautés and Stir-Fries
Since zucchini are so light, they really soak up flavor. A simple yet delicious way to enjoy zucchini is to cut them into cubes or coins and simply saute them in a little olive oil with your favorite herbs and spices. My favorites would be garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Zucchini are also perfect for stir-fries – just chop them into cubes and cook them up with whatever veggies are headed for your wok. Try this Early Summer Light Veggie Saute or this Carrot and Courgette Noodle Stir-Fry.
4. Stewed and Saucy
Another way to cook zucchini is to stew them. Zucchini may be light, but they are not fragile and will hold up under longer cooking times. My recipe for stewed zucchini is simple: cut the zucchini into cubes and add them to a saucepan with chopped onion, bell pepper, minced garlic, diced tomatoes and some salt and pepper. Let it cook for 30 minutes until the zucchini are tender. Garnish with parsley and serve. Cut the zucchini into a smaller dice, prepare it the same way and you have a hearty sauce that tastes amazing over pasta or, you guessed it, over zucchini “pasta.”
5. Fried (Need I Say More?)
Frying is another way to infuse flavor into zucchini. Who wouldn’t love a big plate of fried zucchini sticks that you can dip into a marinara sauce? Use my recipe for Eggplant Fries and just swap out the eggplant for zucchini. Yum! One of my favorite things my mother would make was zucchini latkes or fritters and now I make them all the time. Just grate the zucchini and squeeze out the extra water. Add grated carrots and onions (also squeezed of their excess moisture), baking powder, flour, one flax “egg,” and spices. Drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture into a frying pan with oil and you have a crispy, tasty side dish or treat. Look at these amazing Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Basil Cashew Cream.
6. On the Grill
If you’re firing up the grill for burgers, remember to save some room on there for the zucchini. Cut the zucchini length-wise into quarter-inch thick slices. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with your favorite herbs and spices. Grill until tender, turning once half-way through. Zucchini are also a great veggie to add to your kabobs in between the tofu and cherry tomatoes as in these Tofu Vegetable Kabobs with Peanut Sauce.
7. In Baking
Zucchini has an extremely high water content, and so adding shredded zucchini into batters adds moisture. That means you can use less or even no oil to make cakes and muffins. I love making chocolate chip banana zucchini muffins. You really don’t taste the zucchini since it’s so mild, but it adds moisture and nutrients so you can feel better about indulging in sweet treats. Try these Zucchini Blueberry Muffins and then wow everyone when you tell them there is zucchini in these Individual Chocolate Espresso Cakes.
8. Fillings and Toppings
As mentioned before, since zucchini have a mild flavor, they go with just about everything. Whenever I am making a dish and feel I need another veggie in it to make it heartier, I reach for zucchini. I add zucchini to tofu scrambles, veggie stews, and chilis. Zucchini is the perfect filling for these Spicy Zucchini and Tomato Tacos and these Zucchini and Corn Veggie Burgers. Thin slices of zucchini top my Summer Squash Tartlets or use it as a pizza topping as in this White Zucchini Pizza.
9. Light Summer Fare
Zucchini is such a light veggie, you can eat it hot or cold, cooked or raw. That makes it perfect for light summer dishes when you want something delicious that won’t weigh you down. Add zucchini, whether in cubes, coins or even shredded, to make a light, nutritious salad. When a sandwich feels too heavy, use wide zucchini slices to wrap other tasty veggies to make these colorful Raw Zucchini Wraps. Summer doesn’t have to mean that soup is off the menu but when you want something other than gazpacho, try this amazing Minty Zucchini ‘N Strawberry Chilled Soup. It’s sweet and savory at the same time and uber-refreshing.
Freeze your zucchini and enjoy these amazing ideas all year round. You can cut the zucchini into slices or cubes. Place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze them. Then put the frozen slices or cubes into freezer bags. Grated zucchini can also be frozen as can zucchini puree. This way, you will always have some already prepped zucchini ready to throw into soups, stir-fries or batters.
So the next time you hear someone complain that they have way too much zucchini and don’t know what to do with it all, you can tell them that you know a bunch of ways to use that gorgeous green squash and give them a few of these tips. You can also check out more recipes in this article, 10 Amazing Ways to Eat Zucchini.
Lead image source: Raw Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Avocado Cucumber Sauce