By Daisy Luther
If you are a vegetable gardener, chances are that you’re currently experiencing such an abundance of zucchini so great that even a ravenous family of squash lovers could never keep up with it. Right now, your garden is probably bursting with these prolific veggies. And if you’re not a gardener, this is the ideal time of year to pick up baskets full of them at a great price at your local market. (You can find a nearby farmer’s market HERE)
As a bonus, beautiful yellow summer squash is likewise producing in massive quantities right now, and all of the recipes below will work equally well with the yellow squashes as well.
First, some zucchini trivia
Here’s everything you ever want to know about zucchini but never even thought to ask.
- Biologically, zucchinis are closely related to cucumbers and watermelons.
- Zucchini is technically a fruit and not a vegetable.
- They have been consumed in Central and South America, as well as Italy, for thousands of years, but only became popular in North America over the past 50 years, perhaps when gardeners realized what a bounty they could receive in a tiny amount of garden space.
- Zucchini is part of what is known by the Native Americans as the “Three Sisters” – three plants that grow well together – corn, summer squash, and beans.
The health benefits of zucchini
Zucchini is chock full of nutrients!
- A huge 1 cup serving of zucchini, including the skin, contains: 20 calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 4.2 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.4 grams of fiber.
- Zucchini was proven in studies to be a top food source of antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha carotene, and beta carotene.
- Zucchini is extremely high in natural pectin, which provides protection against diabetes and can help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.
- Zucchini contains Vitamins C, B6, B2, A, and K
- Zucchini is bursting with minerals such as manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus.
Zucchini is not just easy to grow – it can actually take over your garden if you’re not careful! Some people plant zucchini away from other parts of the garden for this reason. You should allow plenty of room for the vines to spread. If you are using the square foot gardening method, thin to one plant per square foot.
Ways to prepare of preserve fresh zucchini
Zucchini is one of those multi-purpose harvests that can be used in a variety of ways. Whether you prefer it sweet or savory, there’s a place for zucchini in your kitchen.
- If you end up with one of the baseball bat zucchinis hiding under the leaves in your garden, cut out the center and remove the seeds. Very large zucchini can become woody and flavorless. Try using over-large zucchini in recipes that call for shredded zucchini – this helps to mask the texture.
- Use shredded zucchini in place of recipes that call for shredded potatoes, or if you aren’t ready for that level of lower carb commitment, you can also mix shredded zucchini half and half with shredded potatoes to make hash browns or potato patties.
- Slice a zucchini in half and fill it with all manner of sweet or savory fillings to make baked zucchini boats.
- Uncooked zucchini spears are great for dipping and make a tasty addition to a veggie tray. If the zucchini is a small, tender fruit, you can leave the peel on for an extra hit of fiber. For a bigger zucchini, it’s best to peel it for use raw, because the skin will be tough and unpleasant in texture.
- Make zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a low carb pasta substitute. The best way to make them is with an inexpensive spiralizer device. (This is the kind that we have.) If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can make long, thin ribbons using a carrot peeler. Here’s my recipe for zoodles with fresh alfredo sauce.
- Zucchini can be dehydrated either in thin slices or shredded. Either way, prep your zucchini, then mix well with salt. Place the salted zucchini in a colander over a bowl and put it in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours but preferably overnight. This will remove a great deal of the moisture. Put a thin layer of zucchini on the shelves of your dehydrator and dry overnight on low, or until the zucchini is completely dry. When you’re ready to use it, reconstitute it by covering it in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and use as you would fresh zucchini.
- You can also freeze zucchini. Unlike most vegetables, there is no need to blanch zucchini before freezing it. Simply shred it, drain it (don’t add salt in case you want to use it in sweet dishes like zucchini bread or muffins) and then place it on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Put this in the freezer for two hours, then relocate the frozen shreds into large freezer bags.
- To can zucchini, swap it out for cucumbers in your favorite pickle or relish recipes. Zucchini really doesn’t take to canning well. The large zucchinis that are a little bit tougher work better for zucchini pickles because they hold their firmness.
- Grill it. My favorite way to grill zucchini couldn’t be easier. Simply slice it in half long way, brush the whole thing with olive oil, then sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and the spices of your choice. Put it directly on the grill so it can soak up the smoky flavor.
10-14. Here are 5 delicious zucchini recipes.
With the garden in full zucchini overload, we’ve been scrambling to figure out ways to use it that are just a little different than the usual sauteed or grilled versions. Here are our top, kid-tested recipes.
10. Zucchini Fritters
There are both baked and fried options here.
- 2 cups of coarsely shredded zucchini
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour (if you are gluten or grain free, sub tapioca flour here)
- 2 tsp of garlic powder
- 2 tsp of onion powder
- 2 tsp of MSG-free seasoning salt
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1/8 cup of cooking oil
- In a large bowl, mix together flour and seasonings.
- Stir in zucchini and cheese, using your hands to combine well.
- Meanwhile, heat the cooking oil until it sizzles when a drop of water is added.
- Form the zucchini mixture into patties and place them in the hot oil, taking care not to splatter yourself.
- Fry on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until a dark golden brown.
- Drain the fritters on a paper towel.
- Serve with sour cream or yogurt garlic dip (see recipe below)
- Form the zucchini fritters as instructed above.
- Preheat the oven to 400*F
- Lightly oil a cookie sheet.
- Place the fritters on the cookie sheet and brush them lightly with oil.
- Bake for approximately 10 minutes on each side or until dark golden brown.
Yogurt Garlic Dip
- 1 cup of plain yogurt, drained until thick
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tbsp of dried rubbed dill weed
- With a fork, mix seasoning into yogurt.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour to allow flavor to develop.
- Serve with fresh veggies or zucchini fritters.
11. Zucchini-Carrot Muffins
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded zucchini
- 1/2 cup of shredded carrot
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 1 tbsp of white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup of white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
- dash of powdered clove
- 2/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup muscovado sugar
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- turbinado sugar to taste
- Grease muffin tin with butter or additional coconut oil.
- Preheat oven to 375*F.
- In a small bowl, add the vinegar to the milk and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, and vanilla, then stir in the milk mixture, the carrots, and the zucchini.
- In another bowl mix together flours, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined – you will have a lumpy batter.
- Let the batter sit for 10 minutes to allow it to rise.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, sprinkle lightly with turbinado sugar, and then bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
12. Zucchini Crisps
(This recipe is courtesy of Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition)
- 1pound of zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450* F.
- Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, then lightly spray it with oil.
- Place the zucchini on the baking sheet then lightly brush with olive oil.
- In a bowl, mix together Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper.
- Sprinkle the mixture on top of the zucchini slices.
- Bake until the zucchini is browned and crisp, about 25 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
13. Dehydrator Zucchini Chips
- Seasoning of choice
- Slice zucchini into thin rounds. (Leave on the peel.)
- Use the method above to salt and drain the slices overnight.
- The next day, toss the slices with some olive oil, lemon juice, and your favorite seasonings. We like black pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder, but you can experiment and duplicate your favorite potato chip flavors.
- Place the slices in single layers in your dehydrator. Dry at 125 degrees for up to 24 hours or until the chips have reached their desired crispness. Store in a mason jar. These are not a long-term food storage item due to the olive oil.
14. Zucchini Pickles
If you don’t have a favorite pickle recipe, you can try putting up some jars of this spicy sweet pickle.
- 3 pounds of zucchini
- 1/2 cup of onion, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 6 tsp of pickling salt (or another non-iodized salt)
- 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar
- 2 cups of turbinado sugar
- 1 tsp of mustard seeds
- 1tsp of black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 6 dried chili peppers or 2 tsp of crushed chilis
- 6 sprigs of fresh dill
- Thinly slice your zucchini (about 1/4 inch or less in thickness).
- Salt the zucchini, add the onion slices, and place it in a colander over a bowl in the refrigerator for 2 hours to remove the liquid.
- Meanwhile place into each sanitized jar: 1 tsp of salt, 1 red chili, 1 clove of garlic, and 1 sprig of dill.
- In a saucepan on the stove, combine sugar, vinegars, turmeric, mustard seeds, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil.
- Making sure the jars are still warm from being sanitized, fill them with drained zucchini and onion mixture, allowing 1 inch of headspace.
- Pour the boiling liquid over the contents of the jar. Wipe the rims and cap your jars with snap lids and rings.
- Process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes (pints), making adjustments for your altitude.
How do you use up all that zucchini?
Please share your favorite zucchini recipes in the comments below.
My best zucchini uses:
✔️Dip spears in soy sauce and grill.
✔️Zucchini chocolate cake made with 1c grated zucchini and cocoa powder. When my kids were growing up, they adored this cake, and it was a easy way to get a vegetable in.
I am looking for the Bayou Burner you recommended in your canning book. The one I found that is stainless steel and looks like it would hold up to canning is run by natural gas not propane. Could you give me more specifics on the one that works for you? I love your book by the way. I am obsessed with canning and am excited to try your recipes. Also thanks for the pectin tip. I have wondered how our ancestors made their pectin when it wasn’t available in stores.
This is the one I use, Connie. http://amzn.to/2vsfuBG
Thank you for the kind words about the book. I’m really glad you are enjoying it!
I often use my zucchini to make “Calabacitas”. It is a mixed vegetable dish with zucchini, roasted (?) corn and green chilies (hot or mild) with garlic, and green onions. Sauté 1/2 inch zucchini chunks in oil and until it loses it’s rawness but not brown. Add the rest of ingredients and warmed along finish off heat with Monterey Jack cheese.
Unlike so much of America, I love zukes! In fact, I was ever grateful when a neighbor came by and handed me dinner: 2 small eggplants, 1 HUGE zucchini, a fresh onion and tomato, and some fresh herbs. FREE! I cleaned out the zuke in the middle, then chopped roughly; brown the onion, and eggplant in oive oil-add some canned mushrooms, chopped spinach, tomatoes, and cooked rice (Mine was leftovers). I cook it for about an hour & a half. This is great over pasta, or all by itself. I added a slice of fresh baked bread. Bless my neighbor-2 nights of free dinners!
I like a zucchini casserole made with ground beef, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, rice and cheese.
If you have a large zucchini (I’m talking 5 inches in diameter), slice it thinly and serve on burgers. It looks like cucumber but still tastes great. Another from WWII, from a family friend who was a cook. Cut off both ends of the zucchini, core it (take out all the seeds but leave the flesh), then stuff it with a mixture of ground meat, finely chopped vegetables and herbs (use whatever you want). Then cook it in a low oven until the middle is cooked through. Chop into large ‘wheels’ and serve with a salad or veggies that have been steamed, roasted or otherwise cooked. Enjoy ????