Gardening basics: What to do with all that extra zucchini

Ah, summer. Or, as it's sometimes known, zucchini season.

If you were one of those brave souls that planted zucchini this year, it's about to start exploding. Or perhaps where you live, it's already mid-explosion! It's time to start finding ways to use all that produce.

Fresh zucchini is great when grilled with a bit of olive oil and garlic salt, or sliced in pasta salads, or eaten raw with hummus or salsa. For these uses, pick zucchini (also known as courgettes) when they are still small, less than eight inches long.

Eventually your palate will crave variety, or one green monster will get away from you and grow too large for eating on its own. For that, I submit the following recipes. Neither one particularly tastes like zucchini — a plus for vegetable-wary eaters like J.D. — but the shredded squash adds moisture to the finished product. I once tried zucchini brownies, but they were soundly rejected! [J.D.'s note: Zucchini brownies. My brains still boggles that Kris tried to pull that one over on me. What a waste of perfectly good chocolate.]


Zucchini duck! (Not our zucchini…)

The following Pineapple Zucchini Quick Bread recipe makes two loaves, so there's plenty for payback if someone you know is sharing their zucchini largess with you. Or you can freeze a loaf, covering it in plastic wrap and then a layer or foil. I recently noticed that due to a store sale and a coupon, I could get pineapple chunks for half the unit cost of crushed pineapple. I bought the chunks (six cans — the limit) and, as needed, just give them a whirl in the food processor so I can use them in recipes.

Pineapple Zucchini Quick Bread

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup crushed canned pineapple, well-drained
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins or chopped nut of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Sift together dry ingredients then add to wet mixture and stir just until combined. Stir in optional nuts and/or raisins.

Pour into two greased loaf pans and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Next, these Zucchini Basil Summer Muffins are a nice lunch accompaniment to a bowl of summer gazpacho or a garden salad. When my zucchini and basil are plentiful, I'll freeze a couple batches of these muffins for fall soup dinners. [J.D.'s note: I'll begrudgingly admit I like these.]

Zucchini Basil Summer Muffins

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare 10 muffin cups. In a medium bowl, beat eggs lightly and stir in milk and oil. Combine dry ingredients and stir in to egg mixture until flour is just moistened. Gently fold in zucchini and basil.
Fill muffin cups ¾ full and top with cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes ten muffins.

For either recipe, you can substitute up to half the flour with whole wheat flour. For the first recipe (the bread), I also have a note that 1/2 cup of applesauce can be substituted for half the oil, but I haven't tried this lighter variation.

What do you do with all the extra zucchini in your garden?

Photo of zucchini plant by Leeks ‘n' Bounds. Photo of zucchini duck by Alex Gee.

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Irene
Irene
12 years ago

Your zucchini has a very unique look. I grew zucchini a year ago and they just got sooo big life the calf of a 14-yr-old kid. Thanks for sharing the picture 🙂

http://banana-blossoms.blogspot.com
http://banana-blossoms.bravejournal.com

half-baked
half-baked
12 years ago

Ooh, that zucchini-basil muffin recipe looks delicious! A good way to use my fresh basil, too.

My favorite way to make zucchini is to cut it into chunks, mix it with other vegetables (onions, eggplant, mushrooms, garlic), marinade it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and roast.

There are also some good stuffed-zucchini recipes out there, which are good for very large zucchini.

Thanks for sharing!

Cindy Marsch
Cindy Marsch
12 years ago

Zucchini-Sausage Stir-Fry

Slice kielbasa or Italian or other firm sausage and brown, blotting up excess grease from the skillet. Add shredded zucchini and saute, adding onion and garlic, then chopped fresh or canned tomatoes (omit the juice) near the end. Squeeze a bit of lemon over, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve over rice or with bread.

This helps get rid of a lot of zucchini at once. A pound of sausage can “take” a couple of BIG zucchini this way. 🙂

Patrick
Patrick
12 years ago

My grandmother uses her extra ones or the ones that are too large to eat to make Zucchini Relish. Phenomenal.

Mary Frances
Mary Frances
12 years ago

I can’t wait to try the muffins! I’ve had sweet zucchini and carrot muffins, but I’ve never tried a savory recipe.

We’ll be having zucchini and summer squash tonight in my Summer Veggie Quesadillas.

Kristen a.k.a. The Frugal Girl
Kristen a.k.a. The Frugal Girl
12 years ago

So J.D., do you like the quick bread too? Or just the muffins? I would be so surprised if you didn’t like zucchini bread…even as a zucchini-hating kid, I liked it in bread.

Louise
Louise
12 years ago

I’m jealous – I love zucchini and plant it every year, but the stems of the plants always get attacked by squash borers and I have never harvested a single zucchini. I need to research natural deterrents to these critters…

Debra Dalgleish
Debra Dalgleish
12 years ago

Thanks for the recipes and the tip on what size to pick the zucchini. It’s my first year of growing them, and one’s the right size now.

Zack
Zack
12 years ago

Barbara Kingsolver has a recipe for Disappearing zucchini chocolate chip cookies in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (also available here, if you scroll down: http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/Recipes.html )

I highly recommend them! Will definately have to try that pineapple quick bread.

Margot
Margot
12 years ago

I’m not gardening this year, but I belong to a CSA and this week our share (for 2 people) included 8 summer squash — and we still had 2 left from last week! Some more ideas: – Puree and add to soup or stew stock – stuffed zukes: slice in half lengthwise, scoop out the middle, saute with other vegs and maybe some rice, add some cheese and/or egg to hold it all together, put back in the zuke boats and bake ’til done, I dunno, maybe 30 mins? – add to stir frys – use in quiche, strata, frittatas,… Read more »

Richard
Richard
12 years ago

I went camping last night and threw some crooked neck squash into my tin foil dinner. It added some really good flavor.

MoneyBlogga
MoneyBlogga
12 years ago

One of my clients gave me two huge zucchinis this week. One of my kids made a delicious curry out of one of them, served over rice. Free dinner fresh out of the garden. Very enjoyable.

Lauren
Lauren
12 years ago

I have been counting on relying on Farmgirl Susan’s method of blanched and frozen slices. She says they reconstitute fine, not like mush as she was expecting. And many commenters say that you can also freeze grated/shredded zucchini for baking, as well.

I am always a tiny bit regretful about freezing as preservation, as it relies on electricity and is therefore somewhat risky (our power goes out sometimes) and costs money, but I’m not equipped to can everything. Yet.

Celina
Celina
12 years ago

We eat them when they are still very small, chopped up in a salad. And we fry the flowers, so we don’t really get that many zucchini. Really, we are growing them for the flowers. We’ve had to cut out some bugs from the stems. Last year we had a plant that had rooted each time the stem touched the ground, so it stayed alive even though the stem was full of bugs.
I’m going to try that muffin recipe, so I’ll have to let a few get big.

Karen
Karen
12 years ago

I have a recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Chip cookies that is delicious. My children don’t care for zucchini, but they will eat those cookies! Very moist. Makes me wish I could have a garden here!

RacerX
RacerX
12 years ago

Wow…Not a big Z fan…

Looks like the Menu to a prison in hell 🙂

deepali
deepali
12 years ago

I love zucchini (and squash). I just saute it in olive oil and TONS of garlic. Delicious with bell peppers and mushrooms over angel hair pasta…

Summer Fey Foovay
Summer Fey Foovay
12 years ago

Zucchini Pancakes – YUM. Shredded zucchini, bread crumbs, egg, parmesan cheese. Mix. Drop in skillet like pancake. In general, they never get out of the kitchen – hubby and I stand over the skillet and eat them as they come out!

NatalieMac
NatalieMac
12 years ago

My mom found that she could shred the zucchini, measure it out, and put it in small freezer bags in portions just big enough to make a loaf of zucchini bread. All year, long, she could pull out a bag and mix up some fresh zucchini bread. We all loved it.

One of my favorites is foil packets with slices of summer squash, zucchini, and fish (like red snapper) with spicy brown mustard and cooked up in the broiler or on the grill. Delish.

Funny about Money
Funny about Money
12 years ago

When you reach the point where you can’t bear the thought of eating one more zucch’, you can donate them to a food bank. We also enjoyed them very small. But occasionally one would hide under the foliage and turn into a gigantic thing. So this is fun, either for a party or for kids: Let one squash grow until it’s ridiculously huge. Cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh, leaving a half-inch or inch-wide “hull” for a “boat.” Reserve the flesh for specialties like zucchini bread, muffins, and pancakes. Wash and slice up a bunch of smaller… Read more »

Jennifer
Jennifer
12 years ago

Try this recipe from Kim O’Donnel of the Washington post. It’s “Zukeamole,” a dip that closely resembles guacamole in texture, but not in fat!

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/mighty-appetite/2006/07/zukeamole.html

fred
fred
12 years ago

we had this article back from eons ago, “what to do with your extra zucchini”… one was carve it out and make a boat with it. it was hilarious – i lived in this great spot on the west coast of vancouver island that always had really long growing seasons. the zucchini would be MASSIVE by the end of the summer… my mom would fry it, but mostly use it in baking. at the end of our run with zucchini (ie when everyone had enough) she would grate it and blanche it in hot water, then freeze it for use… Read more »

Jon
Jon
12 years ago

I love the duck. Zucchini comedy seems to abound across the country at this time of year. Best of luck with all of yours. For some additional green squash recipes and humor you might enjoy the link below. Enjoy the weekend.

http://umamigirl.blogspot.com/2008/07/zucchini-love.html

Peggy
Peggy
12 years ago

Part of your problem is that you’re eating the zucchini instead of eating the flowers! Instead, try making a batter of flour, baking powder, basil and Parmesan cheese. Add in a couple eggs and a little water until smooth like pancake batter. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Dip the flowers in the batter and lay them carefully in the oil. Fry until golden brown, turn them over and fry the other side. Drain them on paper towels. This is an old Italian delicacy. Any squash flowers work: pumpkin, summer, winter, they’re all… Read more »

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

I like to put shredded zucchini in all of my baked goods, including brownies. I am not a fan of their flavor, but I don’t taste it in the baked goods, so it’s not a problem. I use a microplane so there are no big pieces. Most of the time it works the same as the applesauce for oil substitute.

Thanks for the new recipes!

rdzins
rdzins
12 years ago

I got an idea, get a big box and fill it full of them, then go to your neighbors house when they are not looking put it on there doorstep and ring the bell and run! Or you could put it in there car. I planted three of them! We have made jam, bread, cake and more with them. To get some ideas just go to recipezaar and type in an ingredient search for zuchinni, then select the highest rated recipes. There is thousands of ideas even an apple cobbler recipe that uses zuchinni and you can never tell it… Read more »

Dan Isaacs
Dan Isaacs
12 years ago

I’ve seen some videos of another use for Zucchini, but it is very much in a different context. 😉

Greg C.
Greg C.
12 years ago

My wife makes some kind of chocolate zucchini bread ( or something) and it’s pretty good. I forget exactly what it is.

Fried zucchini is a good app as well.

Laura H.
Laura H.
12 years ago

Thanks! Great post.

I remember reading, I think in Reader’s Digest, that you know your not urban when you have to lock your car doors, because otherwise your neighbors will give you some more zucchini…

Ryan McLean
Ryan McLean
12 years ago

Some great recepies there, my parents have their own vege garden. However, I am not a big vege fan. I will pass on the recepies though if the need arises

RetiredSyd
RetiredSyd
12 years ago

I just planted zucchini for the first time. When I told my dad, he said, “you know what they say, friends don’t let friends plant zucchini.”

Lynn Lassiter
Lynn Lassiter
12 years ago

I make “Pinezapple” from extra zucchini. Peel and seed the zukes. This is great with those that have gotten too large for anything. Then use a food processor to “grate” into consistency of crushed pineapple bits. Fill sterilized wide-mouth jars with the grated zucchini and fill with pineapple juice. Process under pressure at 15# for 45 minutes. This tastes just like crushed pineapple whether fresh out of the jar or in baking! Thus my name for it – Pinezapple! The longer you keep this – the better the flavor. I’ve kept it for up to 2 years. The only difference… Read more »

Tom
Tom
12 years ago

I have to admit J.D., I’m not a big fan of the Zucchini as well. My parents used to have LOADS of it in the garden and it just doesn’t seem like it would taste good in anything, I’ll have to pass these recipes along to my parents!

Shirley
Shirley
12 years ago

Also on a gluten-free diet, but I make chocolate zucchini bread using gluten-free flour. I also like to make lasagna using zucchini sliced thin and steamed in place of noodles. We don’t have a garden, but I always grate any extra zucchinis from friends and put in the freezer in 2-cup packages as was suggested earlier. And, I think they are wonderful in stir fry. Use baby zucchini for stir fry, providing a flavorful dish and helping to eliminate a bumper crop of monster zucchini as you can use quite a few babies in one stir fry.

bethh
bethh
12 years ago

My mom always planted FAR too many zucchini plants, in case some didn’t thrive – but of course they always did. Our neighbor made some amazing zucchini pickles, and I don’t even like them. Cafe Castagna, on Hawthorne, served them on the side of a burger once and I recognized them instantly. Back to my mom’s bumper crop: she pureed them and used them as the liquid in whole-wheat waffles. Yeah, this was the 70s and she was just a LITTLE bit into the healthy food craze! My dad refused to eat these brown waffles with green edges, but to… Read more »

Debbie
Debbie
12 years ago

Chop up small or grate and add to spaghetti sauce or lasagne. Delish and my kids even eat it.

Ethel
Ethel
12 years ago

Greg C. said: “My wife makes some kind of chocolate zucchini bread ( or something) and it’s pretty good. I forget exactly what it is.”

I was going to post about this, as well! I think it was a zucchini chocolate-chip bread / cake that was moist and amazingly yummy. No recipe on hand, and no time to look it up, though – but I bet you could Google it.

Stephanie
Stephanie
12 years ago

Here are a few more ideas for you: Baked Zucchini “Chips” – I tried these last night. You can find the recipe at: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,191,145171-233195,00.html I also love to stir fry chicken in olive oil, garlic, and ginger, then stir fry in zucchini and onions. Add a box of olive oil and garlic couscous (cooked). A bit of cayenne pepper and soy sauce and you have yourself a one pan meal. Delish. Last but not least stuffed zucchini. Core out the center of the zucchini (you need to let them get big for this) and stuff it with some of your… Read more »

Jill Harness
Jill Harness
12 years ago

If you get one that is really really wide, slice it so it looks like burger patties about 3/4″ thick and then grill them. Put some cheese on them and serve them like a real hamburger. They are the best things I’ve ever ate and the only reason I’m trying to grow my own zucchini, but none of mine have gotten big enough yet.

Michele
Michele
10 years ago

The zucchini basil summer muffins are INCREDIBLE. I’m eating one now. Thank you for the recipe! I had to change it a bit, though, as I pulled the muffins out of the oven after only 12 minutes because the cheese was getting quite dark. The muffins were cooked through at that time, so all is well.

www.lawnz.org.uk
www.lawnz.org.uk
7 years ago

If you get one that is really really wide, slice it so it looks like burger patties about 3/4″ thick and then grill them. Put some cheese on them and serve them like a real hamburger. They are the best things I’ve ever ate and the only reason I’m trying to grow my own zucchini, but none of mine have gotten big enough yet.

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