Though we’ve officially entered the early days of fall, many of us may still be dealing with a bounty of summer zucchini that’s giving us a bit of burnout, which is understandable—the delicate squash has a tendency to take over a garden, and there’s only so much zucchini bread a person can eat (or foist onto their friends and neighbors). But there’s no need to despair, because we have plenty of creative ways to use up the rest of your zucchini. For starters, try frying it into fritters with corn and cheese, then dipping the crispy cakes into a basil- and chive-spiked sour cream. Blend it up with basil and leeks, and you’ll have a vibrantly colored soup ready for lunch in only 20 minutes. Or, take the Ratatouille approach to ratatouille by layering thinly sliced zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant in a simple tomato sauce to make a gorgeous Provençal tian. These 25 delicious zucchini dishes will see you through the end of the growing season, and then some.
Few uses for summer squash are as simple as this one, a side dish of chunks of both yellow squash and zucchini that are gently cooked until tender in olive oil and garlic. We add torn fresh basil right at the end, to preserve its fresh, herbal flavor. Before you chop up the squash, make sure to scrub the skin well, as dirt and grit have a sneaky way of lodging inside it.
Zucchini is notoriously chock-full of water, which can make it difficult to cook with; grating it and squeezing out all that liquid is the best way to reduce its wateriness and concentrate its flavor. Here, we form patties of grated zucchini, fresh corn, and Gruyère or cheddar, then fry them up into these surprisingly addictive crispy fritters. Try serving them with a side of sour cream flavored with tender herbs, like basil and chives.
The sogginess of zucchini becomes especially problematic when it’s used as a pizza topping—if you just slice the squash up and slap it on the pie, it’ll take forever for the liquid to cook out, meaning you’re bound to end up with undercooked squash, burnt crust, or both. Salting and squeezing the zucchini beforehand can remove as much as 30% of its (mostly water) weight, making it much more pizza-friendly. On this pie, we pair the mildly flavored zucchini matchsticks with powerful feta and garlic, plus very thin slices of bright lemon.
Turns out, corn, zucchini, and cheese pair just as well in quesadillas as they do in fritters. Here, we follow our basic rules for great quesadillas: Mix the non-cheese fillings in with the cheese before adding it all to the tortilla (which helps distribute the fillings more evenly and ensures they don’t slide out), and cook the stuffed and folded tortillas over moderate heat in plenty of oil to get them puffy, crispy, and golden.
Zucchini takes particularly well to grilling, as the fire brings out its natural sweetness and adds much-needed depth. Charring the zucchini on the hot side of a grill and finishing on the cooler side lets you cook the squash through while maintaining some of its firmness. Serve it with a bright and lightly hot chimichurri, an Argentine sauce made with fresh herbs, oil, and vinegar that’s commonly used to accompany steak but works just as well here.
Zucchini’s high water content is a feature, not a bug, when it’s used in a soup: It means that it doesn’t take much cooking before the squash becomes tender enough to blend, so it’s easy to preserve its fresh flavor and vibrant color. This soup makes short work (truly—it takes just 20 minutes, start to finish) of a pound and a half of zucchini, cooked down with gently flavored leeks, celery, and lots of basil. Another handful of basil leaves added at the end gives it a nice burst of raw herbaceousness.
This soup will help you work your way through multiple vegetables that might be taking over your garden: zucchini, lettuce, and basil. Despite its creaminess, there’s no actual cream or milk in this soup; its smooth texture comes from the rice we use as a thickener. For the pesto, which we dollop into the soup after it’s done cooking, we use a mortar and pestle to give it the best possible flavor.
The title of this recipe is a bit misleading—there is no single best minestrone recipe, because the beauty of this satisfying, use-whatever-you-have-on-hand soup lies in its versatility. It’s generally made with beans, pasta, broth, and vegetables, but you have a variety of options to choose from for each component. In the summer months, small chunks or disks of zucchini almost always make it into our minestrone, along with yellow squash, green beans, and spinach.
The bread-based Tuscan soup ribollita was invented as a way to stretch out leftover minestrone with a stale loaf, but it’s also well worth making from scratch. As with minestrone, you can make ribollita with just about any vegetables you like or happen to have kicking around the kitchen. The texture is also highly variable—it can be served as a soup, cooked down into a stew, or cooked even further into a porridge, then sautéed into a savory pancake.
If this photo looks familiar, you might have the movie Ratatouille to thank—the dish that the hero, Rémy, supposedly invents is actually an old-school Provençal vegetable casserole called a tian. Our recipe produces one similar to what you’ll see in the film, layering zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant in a simple tomato sauce. Though it’s slightly time-consuming, precooking the vegetables separately on the stovetop browns them and eliminates their excess moisture, for a more flavorful result in the finished dish.
To maintain a little bite in your zucchini, and keep it from becoming unpleasantly mushy, it needs to be browned quickly over very high heat. For this dead-simple 10-minute side dish, we mix zucchini (and yellow squash, which should be cooked the same way) with juicy cherry tomatoes, minced shallot, and a serrano chili.
While more prone to melting than halloumi or queso panela, kasseri still performs admirably on the grill. Here, we cook it just enough to turn it a little gooey, but not so much that it falls apart—you’ll want to keep a close eye on it to prevent it from melting too much—and serve it with lightly charred zucchini and summer squash, then squeeze on a bit of lemon juice and sprinkle with mint leaves.
Thailand is home to some of the most flavorful salads in the world, and this recipe just scratches the surface. We make it with a large citrus fruit called a pomelo—a common ingredient in Thai salads, though you can substitute bitter grapefruit if pomelo is hard to find—as well as snappy blanched green beans and raw zucchini, ensuring that the salad is packed with textural contrasts. It’s finished off with sliced shallots, mint leaves, and a punchy dressing of Thai chilies, fish sauce, garlic, and lime juice.
These appetizers take a little bit of work, but if you’ve got outdoor entertaining to do this summer, they’re impressive enough to be worth the effort. The key is to grill the zucchini slices properly, so that they’re soft enough to roll, but firm enough to not fall apart. Once the zucchini is done, we roll up the slices with goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, mint, arugula, and chilies (we like Fresnos here), then tie each bundle with a blanched chive.
Hummus offers tremendous potential for additions and variations, so why not put some of your surplus zucchini to work in a batch of it? Here, we blend canned chickpeas with sweet roasted zucchini, which furnishes enough water to give the dip an especially light texture. We finish it off with a sprinkling of za’atar, the Middle Eastern spice blend of sesame seeds, thyme, lemony sumac, and more.
These are far from traditional latkes, but in our defense, it’s also far from latke season, and we don’t see any reason to save latkes exclusively for Hanukkah. To make a more seasonal latke, we supplement the standard potato and onion with shredded zucchini. In search of bright flavors that won’t overpower the mild squash, we turn to a combination of basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan that’s reminiscent of pesto.
These breakfast tacos are about as simple a way to use zucchini as you’ll find. To make the filling, just cook the sliced zucchini and bell pepper in a skillet until they’re browned, then season with salt and pepper. Of course, no breakfast taco is complete without eggs, so we combine the vegetables with soft-scrambled eggs and salsa verde, then serve it all in warmed tortillas with avocado, Cotija cheese, and crema.
This recipe gives zucchini the eggplant Parmesan treatment: slicing the squash, deep-frying it, and layering the fried slices with tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella, and Parmesan. We also sneak in some pepperoni—which isn’t exactly a traditional eggplant parm component, but then again, neither is zucchini.
Though some purists will likely tell you that good pasta should be sauced minimally, we don’t see why every pasta dish has to be dominated by the carbs. This recipe is actually closer to a vegetable sauté, in which the skillet-browned zucchini and roasted tomatoes are the stars, while the rigatoni is just there to help fill you up. To top it off, try a few spoonfuls of our deeply savory dried olive and miso shake, an excellent alternative to Parmesan cheese. Or, you know, just go with the Parmesan, if you’re not worried about keeping it vegan.
We admit that summer isn’t the best time for lasagna—not only is it a rich, hearty dish that always seems better suited to cold weather, summer vegetables tend to be too watery to make good candidates for casseroles. Similar to how we make our tian, the solution here is to sear the zucchini, squash, and eggplant in this lasagna over high heat, driving off excess moisture and adding flavor, before layering them with crushed tomatoes and just a little dairy—because you want to keep the vegetal flavors at the forefront.
When I’m cooking during the week, I gravitate toward recipes that require minimal cleanup, which means lots of one-pot pasta dishes like this one. Ripe cherry tomatoes burst upon cooking, coating the linguine in a light, fresh-tasting sauce. We pair the tomatoes with tender sautéed zucchini, finish the pasta in vegetable stock for extra flavor, and stir in sweet lump crabmeat just before serving.
If you find potato-based gnocchi a little too heavy, you might want to try the Parisian version, made with airy pâte à choux. The simplest way to serve Parisian gnocchi is poached and plain, but here we dress them up a little, tossing the dumplings with a summery mix of yellow squash, zucchini, corn, and cherry tomatoes.
Search online for ways to use up your zucchini crop, and you’ll find a seemingly never-ending assortment of zucchini bread recipes, most of which we find lack a complex flavor. Ours offers caramel notes thanks to brown sugar, as well as a distinct nuttiness with the help of some whole wheat flour. A host of mix-ins work with this recipe, from walnuts and toasted pecans to dried fruit and chocolate chips.
Here, zucchini shares the spotlight with corn and beans for a Native American-inspired side that’s meant to show off your best ingredients. We start by roasting the Poblano peppers to give them a deep, smoky flavor, while then sautéeing the corn, zucchini, and bell pepper. Stir in the beans—preferably a combination of ones like red kidney, cranberry, or lima—then remove from the heat and serve warm or at room temperature.
There’s no one way to make this Korean comfort food. While other versions include a protein like beef and fish, along with a different combination of vegetables, ours opts for tofu and clams, as well as a bounty of mushrooms, zucchini, onions, and scallions. The broth base includes doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste), which offers a flavor that’s funkier than miso. Serve hot alongside rice and kimchi for a hearty Korean-style meal.
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