Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
If you are a vegetable gardener, chances are you have experienced such an abundance of zucchini so great that even a ravenous family of squash lovers could never keep up with it. Right now, the garden is simply loaded with the prolific dark green veggies. And if not, you can pick up baskets full of them at a great price at your local market. (You can find a nearby farmer’s market HERE)
Some zucchini trivia
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.
Zucchini is packed with nutrients.
Here are some of the nutritional benefits of zucchini.
- 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 for 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, as well as manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus.
Growing zucchini is easy!
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.
Wondering how to eat your zucchini? The following information is an excerpt from my PDF book, The Seasonal Kitchen Companion. Be sure to grab your copy to make the most of your summer bounty.
Here are some ways to use 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.
Try using shredded zucchini in place of recipes that call for shredded potatoes. 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.
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 zucchini recipes.
- 2 cups of coarsely shredded zucchini
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- 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.
- 1 cup of plain yogurt, drained until thick
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tbsp of dried rubbed dill weed
- With a fork, mix the seasoning into the yogurt.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour to allow the flavor to develop.
- Serve with fresh veggies or zucchini fritters.
- 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.
(this recipe is courtesy of Tess Pennington of wonderful new-and-even-better Ready Nutrition)
- 1 pound 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.
To learn how to make zucchini “noodles” (also known as “zoodles”), click here: Zucchini Noodles with Alfredo Sauce
There are several ways to preserve zucchini.
You may have so much you need to save it for later. Here are 3 ways to put it back.
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. (I usually leave it 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.
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.
Zucchini really doesn’t take to canning well. However, you can use it in place of cucumbers for your favorite pickle or relish recipes. The large zucchinis that are a little bit tougher actually work better for zucchini pickles because they hold their firmness better. If you don’t have a favorite pickle recipe, you can try putting up some jars of this spicy-sweet pickle from my book The Prepper’s Canning Guide.
- 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
- 1 tsp 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, vinegar, 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.
This and other canning recipes can be found in my book, The Prepper’s Canning Guide. As well, in that book, I have several “kitchen sink” recipes for using the random things in your garden in which zucchini features as well.
What do you think?
Do you grow zucchini in your yard? What do you like to make with zucchini? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
You can also whip it up into zucchini cheesecake. One-and-a-half heaped cups of zucchini, one-and-a-half cups of cashew nut butter, vanilla, sweetener of choice, sprinkle of salt, squeeze of lemon. After a short stint in the freezer, gobble.
*drool* – that sounds heavenly!!!!
I have received a lot of favorable comments for this cake – thought you may like a copy with all those zucchinis you have. It’s actually a recipe for a carrot cake but I substituted the carrot for zucchini:
4 eggs, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1 1/4 cups oil, 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3 cups grated zucchini, 1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts
Heat oven to 350. Place grated zucchini between 2 teatowels to absorb liquid. Beat eggs & sugar until creamy; add oil and beat again. Add sifted dry ingredients. Fold in zucchini and pecan nuts. Bake in large loaf or square tin for 1 hour.
NB: 1 standard cup here (Australia) is 250ml. I think your cup measure is a bit smaller than ours. It may not matter?? Enjoy. Jenny
Sweet-tooths may like this recipe – apparently it’s been the most requested recipe from a particular NZ magazine’s archives .
Zucchini Jam (easy substitute for lemon curd)
1kg (2.2 lb) golden zucchinis
juice & zest of 3 lemons
1kg (2.2 lb) sugar
125g (4.4 oz) butter
Chop zucchini and steam until tender. Puree in food processor until the pulp is creamy like custard. Place pulp with other ingredients in saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Turn up heat and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes until jam is thick and creamy. Bottle and refrigerate.
I don’t know if this can be preserved in lieu of the butter in it??? I have personally substituted coconut oil in place of butter in lemon curd and it preserved well.
For those who like a creamy soup:
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, peeled & finely sliced
1 potato, peeled & sliced
500g (1.1 lb) zucchini, sliced
1 tablespoon tarragon
2 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper
1/4 cup cream
Melt butter and gently saute vegetables for 3 minutes. Add stock and tarragon and simmer until veges are tender. Blend until smooth, season to taste and serve with a dollop of cream.
NB: A standard cup in this recipe is equivalent to 250ml
3-4 zucchini, grated
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Mix all ingredients together until well-combined. Bake in loaf tins for 1 hr at 320F. Cool. Serve with a light spread of butter.
NB: A standard cup in this recipe is equivalent to 250ml.
An egg-free and dairy-free recipe:
Chocolate zucchini cake
1/2 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup oat milk or water
2 cups grated zucchini
a dash of white vinegar
Mix oil, sugar and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients and fold in milk, vinegar and zucchini. Pour into a lined tin and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Ice with chocolate icing.
Oooooh – perfect!!! Thank you!
I slice em in half , scoop out the seeds then pack em with hamburger , wrap em up with tinfoil throw em on the grill about 40 mins then unwrap sprinkle cheese and season salt on throw em back on til cheese is melted yummy
That I need to try. I’m drooling just thinking about it
Oh, I’ve used several squash/zuchinni canning recipes from the Ball Book that we really enjoy.
The Squash relish is amazing-it’s a sweet relish and besides being used as a regular relish it makes killer tartar sauce or dip. This is a great recipe for those big baseball bat sized squash because you grind the squash up-I have neighbors who always give me their big squash in exchange for this relish. I also particularly like to make the relish with yellow summer squash because then it has a cheerful yellow color.
Also in the Ball book is a recipe for squash pickles. These are a sweet pickle along the lines of a bread & butter pickle. You make them as thin slices w lots of onion.
Finally in the most recent Ball Complete Guide to Canning there was a recipe for making zuchinni pineapple. Seriously-you peel & shred zuchinni then can it in pineapple juice and it absorbs the flavor & tastes like crushed pineapple. I can be used in any recipe calling for pineapple. I just had to try this one last year out of curiosity-and it really does work. I can see in certain “depression” or rationing type situations it might be easier & cheaper to get hold of pineapple juice than canned pineapple.
A final note-I’m a master food preserver w the Cornell Cooperative Extension. In your directions for the canned recipe you emphasize using a sterilized jar. The National Center For Home Good Preservation (which trust me always errs far, far on the side of better safe than sorry) states that if you are processing food for more than 10 minutes in a boiling water bath (or at all in a pressure canner) then the ho food itself will sterilize the inside of the jar, so you only need to start with clean, not sterile, jars. While there is no harm, simply overkill, in sterilizing the jars, you are adding a bunch of time & effort into the canning process that is unnecessary.
Another fun way to use zucchini is to make gummies out of it. You can use your bigger, baseball bat size ones for this if you have them. Peel and de-seed. Cut it in good size chunks. Marinate it in fruit juice, sweetened kool-aide, or whatever flavoring you want. Then dehydrate. I think there are more detailed directions online. But my directions should give the average prepper enough to go on. Enjoy!
Many years ago my father had a fabulous garden that gave us many, many zucchini. My mother had a sign made that said: “Zucchini 5 cents a cord.”
A couple of thoughts:
Since zucchini is high in pectin, could it be made into preserves or jelly?
Second, I wonder if it would lend itself to a sweet pickle, like watermelon rind.
I’ve never been a great cooking, house cleaning, in-doorsy type of woman. I was always riding horses, working with animals, riding Harleys, shooting a anything outside. I have 2 older sisters and joke about being the only boy my Dad ever had. All being said in my self-defence. My oldest sister brought me some yellow squash and zucchini. I had a lot to do so I washed and cut up the zucchini and put it in the slow cooker with summer sausage onions and potatoes. Long story short. They were not zucchini. They were cucumbers. Yuck.
Zucchini can be sliced and made into gummy worm candy. Looks and tastes like the real thing, an easy way to get squash into the kids, and they would never guess it was squash. My Excalibur dehydrator full of this does not last a day around here.
Sorry no recipe off the top of my head, but easily found on the internet or you tube…enjoy
Creamy Basil-Zucchini Soup
Saute chopped onions in a little olive oil. Add chopped zucchini and cook another 5-10 minutes. Have chicken broth ready, add it and washed basil leaves at the same time, cook about 20 minutes. Puree, then pass through a sieve, reserving some liquid to adjust thickness. When ready to serve, stir in sour cream, sprinkle on chili powder. I gave no amounts because you should adjust it to your liking (basil should dominate; not difficult because zucchini is not strong in flavor). This soup is versatile: we have it chilled in summer, and warm in winter. I can it without the sour cream and chili powder, and serve with toasted bagels, cream cheese, and home-smoked salmon. And my zucchini and basil are usually available about the same time.
Daisy, I wondered if yellow summer squash could be substituted for the zucchini? Would you handle yellow squash the same way if you were dehydrating it? Thanks (And, thanks for all of your other insightful articles that I save and share.) Trish
Hi Trish – yes, it’s very similar. I’d treat it the same way.
Pesto Made With Zucchini from the Pioneer Woman
1 medium zucchini
1/4 c. sliced almonds
2 garlic cloves
1 c. fresh parsley
1/2 c. fresh tarragon
1/3 c. plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Chop the zucchini into ½-inch pieces.
Make the pesto: Place the almonds and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the parsley, tarragon and zucchini and pulse until finely chopped.
With the machine running, slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil and process until fairly smooth. Scrape into a bowl and mix in the parmesan and season with salt and pepper.