Essay About Cooking with Zucchini
The Wonderful World of Zucchini
In rural upstate NY, Zucchini grows with little effort. It is a low maintenance plant, with an abundant harvest and multitude of uses. While the following is by no means a complete list of the possible uses for Zucchini, they are the recipes I have tried and found success with. Our garden always produces TONS of zucchini, but with so many options, we never get tired of it! Let me know in the comments below if you have had success with other recipes/uses for zucchini! Note: Yellow Squash can be used in place of zucchini in any of the following recipes!
Lasagna Noodles: Slice 2 large Zucchini into thin strips to resemble lasagna noodles. Sprinkle lightly with salt and lay in a colander to drain while you prepare your other lasagna ingredients. Assemble lasagna as your recipe calls for, using the zucchini in place of pasta, and bake as directed. I have been making it this way for 4 years, my husband hasn’t caught on yet that I don’t use pasta any more for the noodle layers!
Zucchini Fritters: I grate and freeze zucchini in 2-cup portions for use to make these fritters throughout the year. They make a great breakfast, or dinner side dish with some chicken and roasted tomatoes. Mix the grated zucchini with 1 egg, ¼ cup flour, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp minced garlic, and ½ tsp black pepper. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and drop dollops of fritter dough (about 2-tbsp each) onto the skillet. Cook about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through.
“Grilled” Zucchini: Heat a cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Quarter 2 zucchini lengthwise, and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt if desired. Cook zucchini until tender and beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes per side.
Stuffed Zucchini: trim the ends off, and slice 2 zucchini lengthwise. Scoop out seeds to form a hollowed boat. Mix removed zucchini “guts” with 1 lb ground sausage, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1 tsp minced garlic, and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Spoon back into the zucchini boats. Pour 32oz tomato sauce over zucchini in greased 9×13” pan. Cover, and bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes, until sausage is cooked. Uncover, sprinkle with ½ cup shredded mozzarella, and bake 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms: heat 2” vegetable oil until a thermometer reads 350 degrees. Mix 1 ¼ cup flour, 1 tsp kosher coarse salt, and 12oz club soda to form a batter. Remove stamens from 2 dozen zucchini blossoms, and dredge in batter. And fry in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan!) for about 2-3 minutes until golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot!
Pizza Bites: Slice a medium zucchini to 1/2” thick rounds. Top with tomato sauce, cheese, and desired toppings (My husband prefers crumbled bacon and finely diced bell pepper; I like pesto and sliced onion). Bake on a greased baking sheet at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Voila!
Baked Zucchini Fries: Peel a large zucchini, slice into 4” x ½” x ½” fries. Mix ¾ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and ¼ tsp salt. Dredge zucchini fries in ¼ cup olive oil, and coat in crumbs. Bake on greased pan at 425 degrees, until golden; about 15 minutes.
Sautéed zucchini slices: Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Slice 2 medium zucchini to ¼” thick (no need to peel). Toss zucchini, 2 chopped scallions, 1 tsp minced garlic, in hot oil, sauté 6 minutes until zucchini is tender. Slowly pour in 2/3 cup vegetable stock, 2 tablespoons fresh (or 2 tsp dried) parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 2 minutes, serve warm.
Zucchini Bread: Mix 2 ½ cups sugar, 3 eggs, 3 cups flour, 3 tsp vanilla, 1 cup vegetable oil, 2 cups grated zucchini, ¼ tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp baking powder, 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional), 3 tsp cinnamon (optional), and 1 tsp ground ginger (optional). Pour batter into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Moist and delicious!
Zucchini Pancakes: Mix 1 ¼ cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, ¼ tsp salt, 1 cup plus 2 tbsp milk, 2 tbsp melted butter, 2 tbsp light brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 2 eggs. Fold in 2 cups shredded zucchini (and ½ cup toasted/chopped pecans or walnuts if you’d like!). Pour 1/3 cup of batter onto hot oiled skillet, spreading to 4” pancake. Cook 1-3 minutes, until bubbles form on the surface of the pancake. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes longer, until golden. Zucchini bread meets pancake? YES.
Zucchini Relish: In a large sealable container, mix 10 cups shredded zucchini, 4 chopped onions, 2 chopped green bell peppers, and 1/3 cup canning salt. Cover and chill overnight. In a large pot, mix 2 ½ cups sugar, 2 ½ cups cider vinegar, 4 tsp cornstarch, 1 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp celery seed, and ½ tsp pepper. Bring to a boil, then add the zucchini mixture. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Can desired amount by processing 15 minutes in boiling water bath, and refrigerate what you will be immediately using for up to one week. It is great on burgers, hotdogs, and chicken sandwiches!
Zucchini Quiche: Mix 3 cups chopped zucchini, ½ cup chopped onion, ½ cup shredded cheddar, ½ cup grated Parmesan, 1 cup biscuit/baking mix, 4 eggs, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Best mixed by hand to prevent over-mixing, it forms a thick batter. Pour into a greased pie plate, and bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake: mix 2 ½ cups flour, ½ cup unsweetened cocoa, 2 ½ tsp baking powder, 1 ½ tsp making soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¾ cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp orange zest, 3 cups shredded zucchini (no need to peel), ½ cup milk, and 1 cup chopped walnuts. Grease a 10” bundt pan, pour in batter. Bake at 350 degrees, for 50-55 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Let cool in pan 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Mix 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 tbsp milk, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake. Serve and enjoy!
Zucchini Raisin Cookies: Mix ½ cu butter (softened), 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 cup grated zucchini, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground cloves, and 1 cup raisins. Chill dough at least one hour. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees, until set. Cool 2 minutes on pan before removing to wire racks to cool.
Recipe add-ins: When making recipes calling for tomato sauce, I like to add some shredded zucchini to the sauce. For example, if making crock pot meatballs, I add 2 cups of shredded zucchini to the tomato sauce when I fire up the slow cooker. When making baked ziti, I stir in a cup of shredded zucchini into the sauce before using in the recipe. When making stuffed cabbage, I add a cup of shredded zucchini to the rice/meat mixture before baking. When making a pizza, I stir in a cup of shredded zucchini to the sauce before spreading on the pizza dough if making a cheese pizza. If making a veggie pizza, I add a cup of chopped zucchini to the other veggies to top the pizza before baking. I have used slices of large zucchini in place of eggplant when making eggplant Parmesan.