Too many zucchini? How to use your surplus

Zucchini

Zucchini photo courtesy of graibeard, Creative Commons.

It is that time of year when zucchinis seem to multiply overnight in the garden. What can you do with all this zucchini? Fortunately, this vegetable’s mild flavor is like a blank canvas and takes on the flavors of what you prepare with it. You can sneak nutrition into a variety of products with this versatile vegetable. Instead of the usual stir-fry, grilled and fried zucchini, be creative and try new ways to use it in your meals.

Breakfast

Use zucchini at breakfast by preparing it with eggs and add some spices to jazz it up. Whip up some zucchini and kale with fruits like cherries and blueberries to make a nutritious smoothie. Shredded zucchini can be added to waffle or pancake batter for extra moisture and texture without changing the flavor.

Lunch

The shape of zucchini is perfect for making vegetable boats. Slice off the center piece of one side of the zucchini and carefully scoop out the flesh to make a boat. Stuff the boat with your choice of veggies, grains, meat or cheese. Just bake and serve. It looks impressive but requires little work. Add grated zucchini to your favorite pesto recipe, using half basil and half zucchini. You can even add grated zucchini to hamburgers, meatballs and meatloaf for extra moisture and nutrition, using one cup of grated zucchini to one pound of ground beef or turkey.

Dinner

Another fun way to use zucchini is to make zoodles. Use a spiralizer or just a vegetable peeler to make a pile of thin spaghetti-shaped strands. Eat it raw topped with diced tomatoes and a vinaigrette dressing or lightly cook them in olive oil and garlic.  Add some other veggies to top the “pasta” if you like. Try using strips of zucchini in place of noodles to make a vegetable or meat lasagna. This decreases the carbohydrate and calorie content of the dish.

Dessert

Zucchini bread

Zucchini bread. Photo courtesy of thriftyknitter, Creative Commons

Since zucchini has an extremely high water content, using shredded zucchini to baked goods adds extra moisture so you can use less or even no oil to make cakes, muffins, brownies and the infamous zucchini bread.

Leftovers

When you have reached your limit of using zucchini, freeze the rest to use later. You can freeze it cut or grated. Choose young zucchini with tender skin. Wash well. For cut squash, cut into ½-inch slices and blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes. This destroys the enzymes and bacteria that would decrease nutrients and flavor over time. Immediately put squash in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the cut squash to remove excess moisture and place in freezer bags leaving ½-inch headspace. Label and date. It is best to freeze in small quantities for single use.

For grated zucchini, wash young tender zucchini and grate. Steam blanch in small quantities 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Do not drain; pack in measured amounts, like 1 cup, into freezer bags or containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool first by placing the containers or bags in ice. Once cool, seal, label and freeze. When thawed, discard extra liquid before using in recipes.

Categories: Food, Nutrition

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