What to do with too much Zucchini!

Zucchini–It’s everywhere here in upstate NY right now. When I go to church, there is a pile in the social hall, free for the taking. My good friend Sherry has offered all I can pick while she is on vacation. I even went into the American Legion bar yesterday evening (on my way to our American Legion Riders meeting) and found a pile laying on the bar for anyone who wanted to take it. (This tendency for Zucchini to overproduce makes it a very frugal vegetable-usually you can score a whole bunch for free) If you yourself have got a couple of healthy zucchini plants, then you are probably trying to foist it off on unsuspecting neighbors right about now.

So what to do with all this green squashy goodness? There are 3 main ways to use up your zucchini: as a vegetable, a pickle or a fruit (believe it or not)

As a vegetable, my favorite easy way to prepare zucchini is to boil it until just barely done. Then I sprinkle with Seasoned Salt (homemade of course) and eat! Low calorie and yummy. The very easiest way is to cut up the zucchini, place it in a microwave safe bowl-I’m lazy and throw it in my measuring cup, fill with water just to cover, and nuke on high for 3 minutes. Then you can drain the water and eat.

Another super simple way to eat it is raw. You can chop it up and throw it in a salad, or cut it into slices/spears for a crudities and serve with dip.

The other classic way to use up your surplus is to make zucchini bread. If you’ve never had it, this is a sweet (not savory!) lightly spiced quick bread. Many recipes include extras such as raisins or nuts. A Google search for “Zucchini Bread Recipe” offers up 2,330,000 results-so there are plenty of them out there to choose from. I personally use the one in the good old Betty Crocker Cookbook*. I’m sure that just about any basic cookbook you have on your shelf has a recipe for Zucchini Bread in it.

But even I get sick of raw and boiled zucchini after a while. And although I could eat Zucchini Bread every day, after a while my waistline wouldn’t thank me. So the next step in my arsenal is to add it to stir fries, curries, soups etc. I also saute it with some onions and serve it as it’s own side dish. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese is lovely on this as well.**

This year I tried my hand for the first time at making Zucchini Pickles. I used a sweet pickle recipe (which I will post this weekend) and it came out delicious! I actually canned them in a boiling water bath, but I think that they would be lovely used as refrigerator pickle and eaten right away, or else frozen in the brine. There are also some intriguing recipes for Zucchini relish that I plan on trying soon.

There is also a delicious baked zucchini casserole that I make. You can find tons of different casserole styles (most are creamy based or cheese based-again Google or a site such as Recipezaar.com are your friend here), but this one is sort of a baked bready/stuffing thing that I got out of a “Taste of Home” magazine years ago. Be warned, this is not a low calorie recipe.

Dilly Zucchini Casserole

1 Cup Bisquick or homemade alternative
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tablespoon Dill Weed
1 teaspoon Salt (if you’ve salted and drained your zucchini, I’d skip this)
1/8 teaspoon Pepper
4 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
3 Cups Chopped Zucchini (I salt and drain mine-just to keep it from getting soupy)
1 Large Onion, Chopped

-In a bowl, combine Bisquick, Parmesan, Dill, Salt and Pepper.
-Add Eggs and Oil; Mix well.
-Stir in Zucchini and Onion until well blended.
-Scrape into a greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
-Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes (mine takes more like 45-you don’t want the middle to be raw but rather bread/biscuity) until golden brown.

My final suggestion for today is to use Zucchini as a “fruit”. I have never tried this myself, but have a girlfriend who does this every year. There are many recipes out there to use zucchini and come out with something that everyone around you would swear was apple. Great minds must think alike, because Stephanie over at Stop the Ride posted a recipe for Zucchini Strudel today! Some other examples from RecipeZaar.com with Zucchini being used as an apple substitute are: Zucchini Cobbler, Zucchini Pie and Zucchini Bars.

So there it is, a ton of ways to use that Zucchini. Who knows, you may even start ASKING people for extra :) Good luck to you all in using up your bountiful harvest.

* Note: You can even shred up zucchini and freeze it in the portions required by your favorite recipe-when you thaw, drain out the liquid (there will be a bunch) and use it in place of the liquids called for by your recipe. This preserves all the vitamins.

**Note: Zucchini has a lot of water in it. I like to use some salt to draw out some of the water first in recipes where I don’t want things to be “wet”-just remember to adjust the seasoning in your recipe to accommodate the extra salt. Even after rinsing it leaves quite a bit on the zucchini. Lately I’ve been cutting up 2 large zucchini, then soaking them in water which has had 1/4 cup of salt added for about an hour or so. Then I drain, rinse, and gently squeeze out even more water.

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  1. Emily C says

    My favorite way to use zucchini is as a hot side dish (not as popular in summer) with onions.

    A bit of olive oil, sauté the onions until 2/3 done or so, then add the zucchini (and sometimes a little extra oil) until done.

    LOVE IT.

  2. Grace says

    August 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night – seriously! Maybe if you run out of ideas, you could sneak some to someone. They’ll never know what squashed them!

  3. T'Pol says

    You can stuff them!

    Here is the recipe:
    Cut the zucchini in half and use a knife to empty the insides.

    Chop some onions, parsley and put them in a bowl with some chopped meat. Add salt and pepper and a couple of tablespoons of regular rice (not the quick cooking kind). Mix them well and stuff the zucchinis and place them in a pot. They should be standing up:)Mix some tomato paste and water and add that to the pot. I sometimes add a little olive oil if the meat is really lean. Put a lid on the pot and simmer it till the meat is cooked. Make sure to check the water. There should still be a little water when the meal is done. You can serve this with plain yogurt. We also stuff peppers, tomatoes, eggplants like this.

  4. mapgirl says

    My mom pan fries them with an egg batter, cheap and yummy with a soy dipping sauce and rice. Egg and veg all at once.

    My friend made me a zucchini soup last year when I had dental surgery. Take one zucchini and cube it. Boil it in some chicken broth and puree. Add some cream/milk, salt/pepper and parmesean cheese. Serve warm or hot. I never tried it cold, but I think it could make a nice thin summer soup as well.

    I love zucchini bread!

  5. Anonymous says

    Fresh vegetables are always great and fruit too. You can use old food that gets thrown away for fertilizer and even rotten eggs for great results. Great ideas!! Have a wonderful weekend!! Annette

  6. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

    Emily-Yumm! I agree, that is one of the best ways to serve it.

    Grace-Ha ha! That’s too funny. Maybe I’ll have to get a few just to leave on the porch of my neighbors. . .with a note of course to explain the day.

    T’Pol-That sounds wonderful. My mom used to do something very similar. It’s funny, I mentioned it to some folks I new when we lived in Alabama and they had never heard of such a thing. . .but their houseguest who was from New England knew exactly what I was talking about. Maybe it is more common up this way.

    Annette-I just love all the fresh veggies we can get in the summer. And I do compost, so all the peels, spoiled bits, and unusable parts do get composted to help my soil in the next year.

  7. Mrs Mecomber says

    Good post. Perfectly frugal!

    We grate our zucchini and freeze it in freezer bags. Over the winter, to make the house a bit warmer, we bake zucchini bread or make zucchini pancakes (very tasty!).

    I grill my zucchini and summer squash during the hot months, and we love it. Sometimes I let it soak in a marinade of olive oil and chopped fresh basil (that I grow). Other times, I just toss it on the grill with the chicken. It is nice grilled, because the heat evaporates some of the unpalatable sogginess of the squashes.

    I also dice the zucchini or summer squash and add it to my spaghetti sauces. It is especially good with tomato and pasta dishes.

  8. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

    Mapgirl-sorry, I don’t know where my response to your comment went! Batter fried would be yummy. I bet that if one used japanses tempura batter that would be good too. The idea of soup is good too-but sometimes it is just too hot for soup :) That would probably be a good use of frozen zucchini, since you could just add the rendered water to the soup broth.

    Mrs M-We do the grilled squash thing too-I cut them the long way so the slices don’t fall into the grill (I had problem if I cut it into disks-but that was probably operator error) and use a tiny bit of chili oil mixed in with some italian dressing to marinate them. I’ll have to try the fresh basil as I’m overwhelmed.

  9. Stephanie says

    Thanks for linking to my recipe. No one has zucchini to give me. Wish I lived closer to you! Must be a good year for it in Upstate NY

  10. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

    Stephanie-It’s either sink or swim with zucchini isn’t it? Last year I planted some and got nothing, and this year my girlfriend and her family are covered up with the stuff. Maybe if you mentioned to some folks that you were looking for it? Like at Church, or Tim could mention it at work?

    Karen-ah ha! It doesn’t surprise me that someone has written an entire book on how to use up zucchini. Thanks for the tip.

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