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It's Zucchini Season!

zucchini, ways to use zucchini

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

If the community garden is any indication, people are having a bumper crop of summer squash, such as zucchini, this year. Zucchini is a member of the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae.

Did you know, one-half cup of summer squash has just 10 calories? Zucchini is low in calories because it is made up of 95 percent water. Summer squash has vitamins C and A, potassium and other vitamins and minerals. As they grow larger, their flesh becomes tougher and they have more seeds.

These are some ways to use zucchini on your menu.

Grill it.

  • Rinse, then slice zucchini into ½-inch-thick pieces.
  • Place in a bowl, then add a small amount of canola oil or olive oil. Mix.
  • Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings, such as garlic powder, pepper or Italian seasoning.
  • Grill zucchini over medium-low heat for three to four minutes per side.
  • Use a perforated grilling pan (so the zucchini doesn’t fall through the grate).
  • Alternate method: Slice zucchini lengthwise, brush with oil and cook over the grates.

Fill it.

Fill the zucchini. Slice larger zucchini in half to form long "boats," then remove the seeds. Cook in boiling water until tender. Drain well, then fill the cavity with your favorite leftover casserole or taco meat and bake until heated through. Top with cheese and return to the oven until the cheese melts.

Make noodles.

  • Rinse but do not peel two small zucchini.
  • Make zucchini noodles by slicing into thin strips with a knife or vegetable peeler. Discard seeds.
  • Heat oil in a skillet. Use 1 tablespoon oil for 2 cups of zucchini noodles.
  • Saute for one minute.
  • Add ¼ cup of water and cook for about five minutes.
  • Note: Special equipment such as a “vegetable spiralizer” is available. A vegetable spiralizer allows you to make noodles out of zucchini.

Use it in baking.

  • Use grated zucchini in baked goods, such as bread and muffins.

Extend foods.

  • Add grated zucchini to meat loaf or meatballs to keep the recipe moist. Use about 1 cup of grated zucchini per pound of ground meat.

 Eat the squash blossoms.

  • Zucchini blossoms can be added to soup, salads, quesadillas and many other foods. If you eat the blossoms, they won’t form more zucchini!

Preserve it.

Since it is challenging, and perhaps nearly impossible, to use all the zucchini when it is fresh, preserving it makes sense.

  • The basic steps to prepare zucchini to be frozen are to wash it, then grate or slice it.
  • Freeze zucchini by slicing or grating; blanch in boiling water for one minute if grated or three minutes if sliced; allow to dry, then package in freezer containers. Remember to drain it before adding to your favorite recipe.
  • Label with contents and date.
  • See www.ag.ndsu.edu/food for more information.

Remember to accept zucchini gratefully; you can make a lot of different menu items with it!

For more information, see “Food Freezing Basics: Methods of Wrapping” at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/preservation.html or other topics available at www.ag.ndsu.edu/ndsuag/food.html.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

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