Don’t Abuse it – Use it: 10 delicious things to do with zucchini

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Why does anyone grow zucchini?

I mean, it’s not the tastiest vegetable in the world. (Actually, it’s a fruit – though it sure doesn’t act like one.)

Enjoy a wonderfully sweet carrot. Pop a handful of sun-warmed cherry tomatoes into your mouth. Or roll your eyes blissfully as you enjoy those first new peas of the season.

Now bite into a zucchini. Get the picture?

Zucchini is a paradox: not only is it relatively taste-free, it grows like crazy. And then hides from you under its enormous leaves. So you end up with a you-know-what-load of over-sized, spongy fleshed, basically tasteless vegetable.

And you can’t just compost ’em, right? I mean, vegetables are supposed to be picked and eaten. So you sigh, and dutifully harvest your always-bumper crop, then start thumbing through cookbooks or browsing online for a recipe that’ll transform zucchini into something you’d actually want to eat.

OK, maybe I’m being a bit too harsh; if nothing else, zucchini is gratifyingly easy to grow. And once picked, with help from its fellow ingredients, it can become something quite tasty.

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Sometimes it doesn’t even need much help: one of my favorite ways to enjoy zucchini is sliced into rounds, sautéed in olive oil, then finished with a splash of soy sauce.

Still, most people see zucchini as an opportunity to get out the mixing bowl, the muffin tin, the cake pan, flour and sugar, butter and eggs and spice… because, at the end of the day, we’re all familiar with zucchini bread and its sibling, zucchini muffins. Like banana or pumpkin bread, zucchini bread is comfort food at its best: mild, soft, and sweet.

Now, zucchini bread and muffins are fine (you’ll find them in the recipes below), but honestly, they don’t make much of a dent in your over-bountiful harvest. So I’ve decided to share with you a few recipes that use pounds – not ounces – of zucchini, before gradually tapering down to those using only 1 or 2 zukes.

You may have a ton of zucchini on the counter. You may, in the absence of a garden and/or over-zealous gardening friends, actually have to go out and BUY zucchini. But whatever you think of it – anticipated delight, garden pest, simple pleasure, staple ingredient – browse through the following zucchini dishes. I’m sure you’ll find at least one that’ll tempt you.

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Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Focaccia
Blog post: This is What You Do With 3 Pounds of Zucchini
Zucchini used: 3 lb.

Why you’ll like it: Because who doesn’t like homemade pizza, right? Cherry tomato, scallion and zucchini topping is slow-roasted in the oven, then piled onto the crust and topped with shaved Parmesan. Bake; enjoy. Simple.

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Recipe: Zucchini Frittata
Blog post: Dealing with the Deluge
Zucchini used: 2 lb.

Why you’ll like it: Because you get the wonderful, rich, creamy quiche experience without having to roll out any crust. Because frittata is delicious at breakfast, with toast; and makes a nice light lunch or dinner, paired with salad. Because it takes a 2-pound whack out of your zucchini supply.

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Recipe: Baked Zucchini Sticks and Sweet Onion Dip
Blog post: That Bloomin’ Zucchini!
Zucchini used: 1 1/2 lb.

Why you’ll like them: Because everyone else does! Since introducing these baked zucchini sticks  3 years ago, the recipe’s become one of our most shared ever, online and via social media. With their crisp/crunchy crust and meltingly smooth interior, these sticks are simply addictive. And that’s even before you add the sweet onion dip!

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Recipe: Zucchini Cheese Pancakes
Blog post: Turning Green Into Gold
Zucchini used: 1 1/2 lb.

Why you’ll like them: Savory pancakes are an unexpected change from the maple syrup variety. And though these use more flour, fewer eggs, and are sautéed rather than deep-fried, they’re happily reminiscent of fritters, flavor-wise.

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Recipe: Zucchini Chocolate Cake
Blog post: Here’s What You Should Really Do With All That Zucchini
Zucchini used: 1 lb.

Why you’ll like it: Because who doesn’t love deep-dark chocolate cake with rich fudge frosting? The zucchini, while indiscernible in the cake, lends it wonderful moisture and enhances its keeping quality.

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Recipe: The Shipyard Galley’s Zucchini Muffins
Blog post: Don’t Lose It – Use It! Zucchini Muffins to the Rescue
Zucchini used: 3/4 lb.

Why you’ll like them: These muffins are as moist and hearty as bran muffins, and flavorful as zucchini bread. The recipe makes 27 muffins; and the batter can rest in the fridge up to 4 days, so it’s perfect to keep on hand during weekend gatherings of family and friends. “Who wants muffins? OK, 4, 5, 6…” Bake just enough so they’re super-fresh.

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Recipe: Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Blog post: Eat Your Vegetables! And Chocolate.
Zucchini used: 3/4 lb.

Why you’ll like it: Think of the best moist, dense chocolate pound cake you’ve ever had. Now add chocolate chips. And the fact that you’re actually using up some of your zucchini. I mean, what’s not to like?!

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Recipe: 100% Whole Wheat Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread
Blog post: When the Horn of Plenty Becomes the Horn of Too Much
Zucchini used: 3/4 lb.

Why you’ll like it: Because it’s 100% whole wheat – and just as moist, dense, tender, and tasty as any zucchini bread made with all-purpose flour. Plus, here’s a tip: Substitute 2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour for the 2 cups whole wheat flour; add an additional egg, and 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum; and let the batter rest for 15 minutes before pouring it into the pan and baking – and you’ve got a superior gluten-free zucchini bread!

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Recipe: Zucchini Lemon Muffins
Zucchini used: 1/2 lb.

Why you’ll like them: Says Sweething, from our KAF Community: “I made these as a change to the loaves of zucchini bread I’ve been making. Nice and fluffy, lemony… these were my best muffin attempt yet! I love them toasted with butter!”

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Recipe: Creamy Artichoke-Zucchini Dip
Zucchini used: 1/2 lb.

Why you’ll like it: Because it’s rich and sumptuous (despite its low-fat ingredients); and OH so tasty, with its bits of artichoke, zucchini and scallion in a cream cheese/Parmesan base. Because it’s super-simple to make on the stove top.

And in fact, if you have a Zojirushi bread machine, you can simply add the dip ingredients to the bucket, program it for the jam cycle, and walk away. Like this:

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Chop artichoke hearts, zucchini, scallions, and garlic in a food processor, then scoop them into the Zo’s bucket, along with cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan and hot sauce. Looking for specific amounts? Read the recipe.

Press Start.

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Come back later, armed with crackers or bread, for a scoopful (or two, or three) of warm, creamy dip.

So, was I right? Have you found a new must-make zucchini recipe?

I hope so – those crazy things out in your garden are getting bigger and bigger even as you read this!

 

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Mary O'Brien

    Nice post PJ! You hit the nail on the head about zucchini.I steamed some the other night and hubby took a tiny bite and said, “There, I tasted it.” I’ll have to try some of the recipes in your post, or pray for an early hard frost.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I personally really love grilled zucchini. The high heat makes for wonderful flavor, even in a rather bland vegetable. A little salt and pepper goes a long way as well. Jon@KAF

  2. Margy

    We freeze zucchini, then make zucchini bread at Christmas to give as gifts. It’s a good way to use the large pithy ones you don’t want to eat. Cut in halves or quarters, scrape out any large seeds and spongy middle, then shred on the coarse blade of the processor. Pack in 2-3cup portions in freezer zip bags and freeze. When thawed, they sill exude their liquid which can be squeezed. There’s always a few who hide under the leaves and become Goliath sized (I think that they whisper and conspire together at night–no matter how careful I am to try to find them all, they ALWAYS

    Reply
    1. Judy

      I always let one of those “Goliath” sized ones grow, then I cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, clean the pith from them, and dry them for next year’s plants. Then I shred them like Margy does, and either make zucchini bread, or freeze it for later. I never buy seeds for zucchini any more, because nature seems to help me.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Seems like everyone is this time of year! Good thing we have a plethora of uses for it. Jon@KAF

  3. Brandy

    I just gotta say, I LOVED all the blog post titles for the recipes! So clever! My personal fave was ‘When the horn of plenty becomes the horn of too much’ : ) Can’t wait to try the Baked Zucchini Sticks and the Creamy Artichoke-Zucchini dip(which I personally plan to dip the sticks in)!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That sounds like a great way to use all kinds of leftover squash! Old-fashioned recipes are always my favorite- easy and delicious with a heart-warming side of nostalgia. Thanks for sharing and happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  4. Carolyn

    Many years ago when we had a garden I found a recipe in the NYTimes magazine for stuffed zucchini. With smaller zukes I cut them lengthwise and scooped them out. With the baseball bats, I cut them crosswise into 2-3″ pieces and used a melon baller to scoop out the center, being careful not to cut through the bottom. Then I chopped the scoopings, discarding the biggest seeds and sautéed them with chopped onion, Italian sausage, maybe some chopped tomato, etc. Stirred in some grated cheese. Then piled this mixture into the zucchini cases and topped them with more grated parmesan and baked them. They can be served as is or topped with tomato sauce and parmesan. Very tasty and, when feeding the family used up at least one of the baseball bats!

    Reply
  5. Sherry

    Zukes are great! I love these guys because they are so versatile. Great for stir fry with some carrots, celery, and cabbage with a touch of soy sauce. Steamed until still just a touch of crispness then sautéed in a bit of butter with sage. Added to homemade spaghetti sauce for added nutritional content for the kiddos without them even noticing it (same with carrots). Added to your bland mashed potatoes give them a flavor burst. I have even used them in place of cukes for my tzatziki (Greek yogurt mayo basically).

    Reply
  6. Lois Steven

    I love zucchini! I developed a version of zucchini lasagna that is delicious. My better half, a card-carrying carnivore, thought it contained meat, but nery a speck does this lasagna have.

    Reply
  7. SBSoule

    LOVE the double chocolate zucchini bread. It is so rich and moist that I serve it for dessert. I did find that I had better success with cooking evenly in 2 smaller bread pans i.e. 4″x8″. One for now and one for later!

    Reply
  8. Ann Rubertino-Beck

    I’m not a fan of zucchini in savory dishes, but here’s an easy vegetable side dish that somehow transforms it into something tasty. Use a medium or larger zucchini, about 8 ounces for every 2 people. Wash, and cut off the ends, but don’t peel. Use a vegetable peeler and run it down the length of the zucchini to make thin, long slices. Rotate the zucchini and keep peeling off slices until it’s used up. Discard the seedy center if it’s an overgrown one. Heat about 1 tablespoon of butter per 8 ounces of zucchini over medium heat in a medium to large skillet. Add the zucchini slices and sauté until cooked to your liking, being careful not to cook to the point of mushiness. Toss and turn the slices as they cook. They will cook in only a few minutes, as they are so thin. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and serve.

    Reply
  9. Ann

    These sound delicious, especially the artichoke dip.
    We love zucchini latkes: grate the zucchini, lightly salt and drain. Wring in a clean dish towel, then add to beaten egg, salt and pepper, minced parsley, chopped onion and garlic to taste and whatever other seasonings you like (I add a pinch of sage). Fry in butter or oil, serve immediately or keep warm in the oven. You can also freeze and serve later.

    Reply
  10. Anne Roney

    I like stuffing zucchini also….very similarly. I also like grilling lengthwise slices of zucc after marinating in Italian/balsamic vinaigrette.
    My son always accused me of being the Zucchini Queen!

    Reply
  11. Kimberlee Lukins

    I make pickles and chips with my oversized zucchini. I quarter them lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and slice them 1/8 inch thick. From there I follow my families pickle recipes and can enough for gifts. These pickles stay crisp!
    For the chips, I soak the slices in salt water for 24 or more hours and dry them on my dehydrator (use mesh screen or parchment). I vacuum pack the chips in wide mouth jars for year round snacks! :)

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Kimberlee, I’ve made zuke pickles, but never chips. I’m totally trying those. Thanks for the inspiration! PJH

  12. brigc308

    I use my zucchini to make zucchini Parmesan..it actually taste better than eggplant. I dip it in flour and than in egg and fry it. After it is baked and cooled, I cut it into pieces and freeze as individual servings. Family takes it for lunches. I also freeze the whole casserole dish and bake when I remove from the freezer.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Wow, I haven’t tried that yet and, being an eggplant parm lover – I’m definitely saving some zucchini for this! Thanks so much – PJH

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