The zucchini season is upon us! I have a whole row of zucchini in my garden and last week we enjoyed our first zucchini harvest.
I brought my quality control specialist to ensure the zucchinis were fit to be eaten.
Looks like they passed inspection. 🙂
Zucchini plants are known for their productivity. Most people have so many zucchinis, they begin giving them away to coworkers, neighbors and friends because they don’t know what else to do with their fresh, green bounty. Last summer, we made lots and lots of zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, and even a pretty delicious chocolate zucchini cake.
But since last fall, we’ve decided to actively reduce our consumption of sugars and grains. This summer will not be filled with cakes, muffins and breads of the zucchini variety. I’ve come up with 10 simple dishes for using those green summer squash that don’t involve drowning them in cups of flour and sugar. This is how we do zucchini in my kitchen:
#1 Sautéed Zucchini
It doesn’t get simpler or tastier than this quick, savory side dish. Slice several zucchini thin and sauté in a tablespoon of butter with salt and pepper until the zucchini slices are soft and turning brown. Mix it up by adding in onion or other fresh veggies and herbs from your garden. I served this for lunch last week and my kids gobbled this down and requested more. I rarely serve anything that evokes excitement by all six of my children, unless, of course, it’s pizza or ice cream. Even when I went to clean up the baby’s booster chair in the dining room, I found my homemade coleslaw on the floor, I found our farm-fresh, free-range chicken on the floor, but I did not find any zucchini slices…anywhere. This dish gets two pudgy baby-thumbs up!
#2 Stoplight Kabobs
Skewer those green babies stoplight-style. Bright colors make for an appealing and impressive cookout with family or friends. Try red cherry tomatoes, yellow bell pepper pieces and thickly-sliced zucchini for the green in your stoplight. Drizzle a little olive oil over the kabobs and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. Grill alongside a meaty main dish or sandwich pieces of chicken, steak, shrimp or fish between your stoplight-patterned veggies.
#3 Campfire Veggie Pouches
Nobody wants to turn on their oven and heat up their kitchen in summertime. My solution? I make dinner over the campfire once a week. Not only does it keep my farmhouse cooler, there is always less mess to clean up later. Suddenly dinner feels a little more fun for everyone. Or bring these pouches in a cooler the next time you go camping. To prepare this sizzling side, lay out a rectangle of aluminum foil. Lay some chopped veggies like zucchini, onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, potatoes or grape tomatoes in the middle of one end of the foil rectangle. Plan to make one pouch for every 2-3 people you are serving. Season with salt, pepper, fresh dill and garlic. Place two or three small cubes of cold butter over the veggies and seal the pouch by bringing the empty end of the foil rectangle over the veggies, then folding the edges of the aluminum foil up two times on all three open sides. You should now have a handy-dandy pouch, ready for the fire. Let your fire burn down to coals and throw those pouches on top. Allow them to cook for 5 minutes, flip over and cook five more minutes. Open one of the pouches (careful for steam!) to see if the veggies have reached the desired tenderness. Grab a fork and enjoy!
#4 Sliced Zucchini Pizza
We do pizza night every Friday night to welcome in the weekend. I make a homemade grain-free crust and we pile on veggie toppings for a healthy dinner everyone loves. When I have some extra zucchini, I love to slice it thin and top our pizzas with it. The zucchini blends nicely with some chopped red onion, mushrooms, yellow bell peppers and some spinach leaves.
#5 Zucchini Patties
Shred 2 zucchinis into a colander and toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Place colander in sink and allow to drain for 10 minutes, then squeeze some moisture out with some paper towels and place in a bowl. Mix in two eggs, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon onion powder and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and form the mixture into manageable patties (keeping them on the smaller side makes it easier to flip). Once the butter is hot, place patties, about 4-5 at a time into the skillet. Allow to cook and get crispy brown on one side, approximately 5-6 minutes, then flip to brown the other side and cook through, another 5-6 minutes. For a cheesy twist, top with a handful of shredded cheese during the last two minutes of cooking.
#6 Zucchini Lasagna
My pickiest eaters cheer when I announce it’s lasagna night. Even if you eat pasta, you may still enjoy this lower-carb option every now and then in your meal plan. This is easy to make, and you can even use your favorite lasagna recipe. All you need to do is omit the lasagna noodles, and shred about 3 medium-large sized zucchinis. Crack three eggs into this mixture and add in the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and spices as called for in your recipe. Now put your meat sauce in the bottom of your pan, and smoosh on half the zucchini/cheese mixture, followed by meat sauce, then the other half of your zucchini/cheese mixture, and finish off with your meat sauce. Top with cheese and bake. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
#7 Zucchini Egg Bake
For a healthy veggie boost, swap the hash browns in your egg bake or skillet scramble with shredded, seasoned zucchini. I make a very simple crock pot egg bake. Pat 2 or 3 shredded zucchinis, seasoned with salt and pepper, into the bottom of a buttered crock pot. Top with a thinly sliced (8 oz) block of cream cheese, 5 sliced green onions and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Whisk together a dozen eggs, 1/2 cup milk, salt and pepper and pour into the crockpot. Chop and cook a pound of bacon until crisp and sprinkle on top. Cook on high about 3 hours or low for 5 hours, until eggs are good ‘n’ set. Garnish with a few sprinkles of cheddar cheese and one more chopped green onion. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. I made this yesterday evening and all the kids requested a second helping.
My daughter, Hannah, requested ratatouille for her 9th birthday. I’ve never made this dish before. It sounded fancy, French and fussy and I was anticipating a lot of work to get this dish on the table. In the end, I’m so glad I gave it a try despite my reservations. It’s a delicious, one-pan dish, and is another use for that abundant zucchini in your garden. Click here for the easy recipe I used.
#9 Zucchini Boats
Photo credit: http://www.wellnessmama.com
Another way to indulge your Italian craving without carb-loading are these tasty zucchini boats. I use this recipe and it’s kid-approved. I’ll be cooking my zucchini boats in foil in the campfire this summer.
Just when the evening air turns cool and crisp, and the trees are changing color, but your zucchini plants are still offering up their fruit, it’s time to make some chili. Chopped zucchini can be added into any chili recipe. Soften and cook them along with the meat or veggies you sauté in your usual recipe. You just may enjoy the healthful addition!
For those that still plan to make some breads, muffins and cakes, I don’t want to leave you out, either. Last summer I made this chocolate zucchini cake and it was very good. If you have a birthday coming up or were asked to bring a dessert to a potluck, I think this will do nicely and you may even impress someone by saying it contains vegetables from your garden. 🙂
Did I miss your favorite zucchini dish? If so, add it in the comments! Enjoy those versatile zucchinis!