Zucchini is a staple crop for us in summer. It is available at the end of June through September with its peak season running in July and August. It will be at our farmers market stand throughout that time and show up in the summer CSA boxes about 8-10 times. We try to include 1-2 pieces in the early season as well as a couple of “big weeks” with 3-4 pieces so you can play with making zoodles and/or doing some grilling. We aim to never ”zucchini you out”.
What we grow
We grow two main types of zucchini at our farm: the classic green kind as well as a yellow zucchini. Occasionally, you might also get a costata romanesco type with stripes.
Absolutely do not wash zucchini before storage. It is a fairly perishable vegetable that stores best in the crisper drawer of your fridge and should be used within 4-5 days. Yellow zucchinis don’t store as long and are more sensitive to cold fridge temperatures. You’ll want to use these first. If you store either type of zucchini for a long time, it will start to look a little dehydrated on the end. They are not bad, just cut off the end and use the rest.
People get so much zucchini that they typically don’t feel the need to do long-term storage, but if you want to stock up for winter, there are several great options.
My favorite way to process zucchini is shredding it with a grater or with the grater blade of my food processor. You can work in large batches and stuff it into freezer bags or containers. Frozen shredded zucchini is best for using in baked goods like zucchini bread or muffins but can also be used in smoothies or as a healthy way to thicken sauces and soups.
2. Blanched and frozen
Though technically possible, this method is the least desirable to me (and is one we’ve never done). To do this, trim off the ends and cut into slices or strips. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes, move to an ice bath to stop the cooking process, drain and lay out on baking sheets so that pieces freeze individually. Once frozen, move to freezer bags or containers. Use in soups, curries, and sautes in winter.
3. Zucchini pickles
Zucchini pickles are a surprisingly tasty way to store your zucchini for later. They can be done short-term (as fridge pickles) or preserved using a water bath canner for the longer term. The classic Midwest recipe for zucchini pickles can be found below.
4. Frozen in zucchini bread, muffins, or mini quiche.
Another great way to deal with a bounty of zucchini, is to make extra large batches of zucchini bread, muffins or mini quiche in muffin tins, remove them from the pans, wrap well with plastic wrap and store in the freezer until you’re ready to enjoy it. These are quick, healthy, grab and go items for breakfasts or lunches!
How to eat zucchini
There are a lot of fun ways to use zucchini. From quick sautes and stir fries to much more creative preparations, here are a few of our favorite ways to eat zucchini:
- Zucchini is a great stir fry veggie because of its tender flesh and skin. It sautes quickly and can be added to the end of a stir fry, and cooked over high heat for just a couple minutes.
- It is also great cooked quickly with onions and/or mushrooms for a fast side dish.
- Zucchini makes a great shaved or raw salad. We love this one from Jamie Oliver.
- It also melts into pasta adding a little nutrition to a creamy carby meal.
- We love to grill zucchini in any number of ways- sliced in either direction, cut into strips or added in chunks to skewers. You can even grill full halves, scoring the skin, and grill them skinside down for a rich creamy treat. Some folks love to top halved grilled zucchini with a creamy sauce, some herbs, and a crunchy element (like nuts or crispy chickpeas). This can turn into a whole meal on its own.
- Zucchini pancakes are great, as are zucchini fritters, zucchini pie, and zucchini cakes.
- We also love zucchini parmesan (in place of the eggplant) or to make lasagna with zucchini as the noodles.
- Ratatouille is another classic way to enjoy zucchini alongside all the other delicious summer veg coming out of the fields at that time. It usually has eggplant in it, but you can absolutely substitute more zucchini for the eggplant. Also, if ratatouille pasta isn’t on your radar- it should be!
- Zucchini can go on pizza, in tacos, be pureed into soups, and makes a great addition to quiches (or even scrambled eggs).
- Medium zucchini are great because they make the best zoodles- which is a whole category of food unto itself!! Once zucchini have been zoodled, you can saute them quickly with a little butter (and parmesan if you like) or top them with a tomato sauce, pesto, or with a spicy sesame sauce. You can even turn the zoodles into a simple slaw by tossing them raw with a mayo yogurt mixture and adding alongside (or on top of) a BBQ pork sandwich!
- Large zucchini have more seeds so they work best for halving, hollowing out, and stuffing. The traditional format is to stuff them with a tomato meat sauce and cover with cheese. We also love this lighter, vegetarian option.
- And then, of course, there is always baking. This is another great use for large zucchinis (or just zucchini overload). The range of options when it comes to shredding and adding to zucchini breads, zucchini muffins or folding into cakes and brownies is literally endless.
Yeah, there is a LOT you can do with zucchini. We shared our top 5 favorite recipes below so you have somewhere to start.
Our 5 favorite zucchini recipes
Simple Summery Saute
The trick to this super simple recipe which my kids love is starting with a hot cast iron (or similar pan). Lemon juice is added to create a burst or steam, and you can cover the pan until they are tender.
Yield: 2 servings
Time: 10 minutes
1 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 zucchini, cut into rounds
1-2 garlic cloves, minced, optional
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Finely grated Parmesan, optional
- Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high-heat. Add zucchini, garlic (if using), and lemon juice. Saute 5-7 minutes until softened and zucchini begins to brown every so slightly. Cover the pan if you prefer your zucchini a little more soft.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Parmesan right before serving.
Double Tomato Pesto Spaghetti with Zucchini Noodles
Recipe by Cookie & Kate
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
8 ounces whole grain spaghetti
1 large zucchini
⅔ cup walnuts
2 pints (4 cups) cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup lightly packed basil leaves, larger leaves torn into small pieces
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the spaghetti. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Spiralize the zucchini with a spiralizer (here’s how), or turn the zucchini into noodles with a julienne peeler, or grate the zucchini the long way on a large box grater.
- Toast the walnuts: In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the walnuts, stirring occasionally, until they smell nice and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Cook the cherry tomatoes: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cherry tomatoes, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have burst open and they are cooking in their own juices, about 7 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the walnuts, half of the cooked tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, red pepper flakes, ¼ teaspoon salt and several twists of freshly ground black pepper. Blend until the mixture is pretty smooth, then season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt and/or pepper until the flavors really sing (if that doesn’t do the trick, add some more sun-dried tomatoes). Blend again.
- Pour the pesto over the spaghetti and toss to combine. If you’ll be consuming this dish in one sitting, go ahead and toss in all of the zucchini noodles now, too. (If you plan on having leftovers, store the zucchini noodles separately from the rest, as they leach water when they’re exposed to salt—I just pile the noodles on top of my individual bowls and wait to stir them in when I’m ready to eat. Hope that makes sense.)
- Pour the rest of the cherry tomatoes on top of the dish, and sprinkle the basil over them. Toss gently, and divide the mixture into bowls. Top individual bowls with Parmesan or nutritional yeast, if you’d like, and a light drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.
Ultimate Zucchini Bread
Recipe by Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 8-10 servings
Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
2 cups (13 ounces or 370 grams) grated, packed zucchini, not wrung out, grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (160 ml) of a neutral oil (I use safflower), olive oil, or melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup (95 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (25 grams) raw or turbinado sugar
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 6-cup or 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Place grated zucchini in a large bowl and add oil, eggs, sugars, vanilla, and salt. Use a fork to mix until combined. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder over surface of batter and mix until combined — and then, for extra security that the ingredients are well-dispersed, give it 10 extra stirs. Add flour and mix until just combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the raw or turbinado sugar — don’t skimp. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick or tester inserted into the middle cake but also into the top of the cake, closer to the dome, comes out batter-free.
- Let cool completely in the pan. Leave in pan, unwrapped, overnight or 24 hours, until removing (carefully, so not to ruin flaky lid) and serving in slices. Zucchini bread keeps for 4 to 5 days at room temperature. I wrap only the cut end of the cake in foil, and return it to the baking pan, leaving the top exposed so that it stays crunchy.
Mediterranean Couscous Salad with Raw Squash and Feta
Recipe by Cookie & Kate
Yield: 6 servings
Time: 35 minutes
1 ⅓ cup whole wheat Israeli couscous (or any other small pasta shape, you’ll need about 3 cups cooked)
⅓ cup pine nuts
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste (from 1 to 2 lemons)
1 large shallot, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)
⅓ cup pitted and thinly sliced Kalamata olives
1 medium zucchini, sliced into super thin rounds
1 small yellow squash, sliced into super thin rounds
⅓ cup (⅔ ounce) chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
- Cook the couscous until al dente, according to package directions. Drain off any excess water.
- Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts: In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm the pine nuts until they’re turning lightly golden on the sides and fragrant (be careful not to let them burn). Transfer them to a bowl to cool.
- In a large serving bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, salt and several twists of black pepper until combined.
- Add the couscous to the bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Top the couscous with the toasted pine nuts, chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, olives, zucchini and squash, and basil. Stir to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add an extra tablespoon or two of lemon juice if it needs more brightness. For the best flavor, refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This salad will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days.
Recipe from Taste of Home
Yield: 4 half-pints (or 2 pints)
Time: 40 minutes
2 pounds firm fresh zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 small onions, sliced
1/4 cup canning salt
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
- Combine zucchini and onions in a large bowl; sprinkle with canning salt and cover with cold water. Let stand 2 hours; rinse and drain.
- In a large saucepan, bring remaining ingredients to a boil. Pour over zucchini and onions; cover and let stand 2 hours.
- Transfer to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Carefully ladle hot mixture into 4 hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/2-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot mixture. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars; screw on bands until fingertip tight.
- Place jars in canner with simmering water, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil; process for 15 minutes. Remove jars and cool.