Don’t let a bumper crop bum you out; here are 7 recipes to squelch that squash

It’s the end of the summer and everyone knows what that means: The generosity of your zucchini plants has overwhelmed you.

What do you do with a metric ton of the fruit (yes, fruit)? You missed National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (seriously) on Aug. 8. So you might as well embrace the abundance and use up all the green summer squash your garden throws at you.

Zucchini is mild and incredibly versatile. It can be boiled, baked or steamed, pickled or frozen. Here are a few recipes that will help you use up your harvest.


Easy parmesan zucchini on Aug. 29, ...

Amy Brothers, The Denver Post

Easy Parmesan zucchini.

Easy Parmesan Zucchini

This is so easy, you can skip turning on the stove and prepare a simple side dish in the microwave.
From foodiecrush.com
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini, sliced into coins
2 tablespoons of butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, or more
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

To prepare the zucchini in the microwave, put the rounds in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 tablespoons of water and cook for 4 minutes on high, or until they are just tender. Drain the water and add the butter, tossing to melt. Season with kosher salt and pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve hot.

For the stovetop: Place a steamer basket in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water, or until it’s just below the bottom of the steamer. Fill the steamer basket with the zucchini and cover, then bring to a boil. Steam covered for 3-4 minutes or under the zucchini is just tender. Drain the water, remove the zucchini to a serving dish, then add the butter, tossing to melt. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve hot.


Zucchini Rounds Cooked in Butter

Bonus points for this recipe if you also let your mint plants run a little wild this summer.

From “How to Cook Everything,” by Mark Bittman
Serves 4

Ingredients

About 2 pounds of zucchini, the smaller the better
3 tablespoons of butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey
3 or 4 tablespoons of minced fresh mint leaves

Directions

Cut the squash into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the butter in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. When the foam subsides, add the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash becomes tender and begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the honey and mint, check the seasoning and serve.


Amy Brothers, The Denver Post

Zucchini boats filled with with a mixture of sautŽed sweet onion, zucchini and mozzarella. (Amy Brothers, The Denver Post)

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

The options are as bountiful as your zucchini harvest. Many recipes call for ground beef or sausage. These are a simple mixture of sweet onion, zucchini and mozzarella cheese.
From mygourmetconnection.com
Serves 4

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat a shallow baking pan with nonstick spray. Trim the ends from the zucchini and halve them lengthwise. Using a melon-baller, hollow out each half, leaving a wall of 1/4-inch thick or less on the sides and the bottom. Reserve the pulp. Season the zucchini halves with salt and pepper, arrange them on prepared baking pan and bake until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Roughly chop the reserved zucchini pulp and set aside. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute longer, then add the chopped zucchini. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and continue cooking until the zucchini is tender and the entire mixture is lightly caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook for 1 minute longer.

Divide the zucchini-onion mixture between the hollowed “boats,” and top each with about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese. Bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until the boats are tender when pierced with a knife and the cheese is melted and golden.


Amy Brothers, The Denver Post

Zucchini and onion gratin on September 6, 2018 in Denver.

Zucchini and Onion Gratin

The perfect side dish for summer meals on the deck.

From Cooking Light, June 2014

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds of zucchini, diagonally sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

Directions

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste; cook 2 minutes. Stir in zest, thyme and 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Preheat broiler to high.

Arrange the zucchini on a jelly-roll plan. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and toss. Broil 7 minutes or until lightly charred. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread onion mixture in a 2-quart gratin dish. Arrange zucchini over the onion mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Preheat broiler to high. Uncover dish and broil 1 1/2 minutes or until lightly browned. It can be served hot, but it’s also good at room temperature.


And here are other recipes from our staff:

One summer’s end, not so long ago, a “friend” brought me a zucchini from his garden. It was as mega as a teenager’s leg; I could have used the seeds to make a necklace.

I know that people sauté these beasts; they make bread out of them; they Parm them. I just didn’t want to do any of that. Plus, I figured this couldn’t be just a U.S. of A. problem; summers must end just so in other countries’ gardens. So, I looked around and found some recipes from Chile, Italy (of course, Italy; that’s where Zucchini got his name), and Brooklyn, all foreign lands that also grapple with season’s end superfluity.

This is St John’s way to cook overgrown green vegetables, a melding of parts of three recipes. It is delicious; I’ve made it to oohs and ahs a few times now. We will start with the zucchini, with substitutions given for other jolly green giants. — Bill St. John 

Long-Cooked Green Vegetables

Ingredients

1 ginormous zucchini (you want to end up with just over 2 pounds of trimmed flesh, seeded if necessary and with some — not all — of the peel removed if the peel is extra-thick and gnarly)
1 rounded tablespoon kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
2-3 anchovy filets (optional, though I strongly suggest that you use them)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup tomato sauce, canned or homemade
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Healthy pinches of dried green herbs (oregano works, so do herbes de Provence or thyme; rosemary may be a bit strong)
10 medium fresh basil leaves (or the equivalent in fresh mint leaves), torn, with additional basil or mint for garnish, in chiffonade
1 medium or 1/2 large lemon

Directions

Cut up the zucchini into 1-inch thick cubes or chunks. Place a colander in the sink, add to it the zucchini pieces, and sprinkle them with the salt, tossing the salt into the zucchini with your hands. Let the zucchini sit there for 20-30 minutes, draining. Before proceeding, pat the pieces with a lot of paper toweling in order to dry them off.

Put a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes, stirring. When just sizzling, lower the heat a bit and cook until the garlic is golden and the anchovies have dissolved, 5-7 minutes. Do not brown or burn the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, parsley, herbs, and basil or mint, stirring.

Add the dried-off zucchini pieces and mix everything together well, bringing the lot up to a good simmer. Cover the pot. Lower the burner to the lowest possible flame and cook the zucchini for 2 hours, stirring every half hour in order to combine the flavors but not so vigorously as to break up the ever-softening zucchini. If even the lowest flame on your stovetop is too much – that is to say, if the zucchini mixture is boiling rather than merely simmering, use a heat diffuser or even cook in a slow oven (300-325 degrees).

Remove the lid; turn up the heat. Let any obvious water boil off and stir the vegetables gently a time or two, until there’s a sauce of sorts coating the zucchini pieces, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room or ambient temperature, garnished with squeezes of lemon juice and the chiffonade of remaining fresh basil or mint.

Substitutions for the zucchini: 2 pounds, after trimming, of broccoli or cauliflower (2-3 heads); long beans, green beans, pole beans; other summer squash (yellow squash, chayote, pattypan, crookneck); yellow or red bell peppers; or a mixture of any of these including zucchini.


Amy Brothers, The Denver Post

Zucchini bread. (Amy Brothers, The Denver Post)

So you know how you set out to duplicate a recipe that someone else made but they didn’t follow the recipe but it was amazing anyway and then you start to make it but you don’t have all the right ingredients either so you make it up as you go along with the ingredients you have on hand? And then end up with something completely different?

But it’s still really really good?

Truthfully, it had never happened to me before this, so I was astonished. This recipe seems to be so forgiving that you pretty much can do anything to it (within reason) and it’ll still come out great.

Don’t have wheat flour? White will do. Don’t have brown sugar Splenda? Regular brown sugar will do. Don’t have unsweetened applesauce, but do have some apples? Use sweetened but cut down on the other sugars. Or better still, make your own (which I did)! Don’t have fat-free margarine? Use vegetable oil or (as I did) avocado oil. Don’t want to futz with separating egg whites out? Use the whole egg.

Sure, the nutritional values in the original recipe will be off, but you do what you have to do to get something baked  at 11 p.m. when deadline is the next morning. And cross your fingers.

The recipe, from geniuskitchen.com, is called “Diabetic Zucchini Bread (Low Sugar, Low Calorie, Low Fat)” and yes, I made it with these ingredients as well. And — no surprise — it’s still really good. As written, it’s not as sweet, and a bit more dense with a tiny bit of aftertaste, but for folks on a sugar-restricted diet, it’s a great treat. And it freezes well, too. — Barbara Ellis

Diabetic Zucchini Bread

This low-sugar, low-calorie, low-fat recipe is from geniuskitchen.com, and is terrifically versatile. With these ingredients, it has less than 1 gram of sugar per serving. Substitute at will and it will still come out great (albeit with different nutritional values).

Ingredients

3/4 cup egg whites or egg substitute, beaten
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup fat-free margarine, melted
2 cups zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
6 tbsp. Splenda brown sugar blend (or 3/4 cup regular brown sugar)
3/4 cup Spenda granular
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (I use more)
2 cups whole wheat flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two medium loaf pans. In a bowl, combine egg, brown sugar, sugar, applesauce and margarine. Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Mix. Add flour slowly. Add shredded carrots, zucchini and nuts. Beat mixture by hand or with electric mixer. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Serving size per recipe: 16. Nutritional value per serving: 98 calories. Calories from fat: 15. Total fat: 1.7 g. Saturated fat: 0.2 g. Cholesterol: 0. Sodium: 200 g. Total carbohydrates: 17.9 g. Dietary fiber: 2.2 g. Sugars: 3.8 g. Protein: 3.7 g.


Amy Brothers, The Denver Post

Rosemary cornmeal crusted zucchini with a grapefruit aioli. (Amy Brothers, The Denver Post)

This recipe took a few tries before we figured it out. It came from a reader who used “some of this, a dash of that” and had been making it for her family for years. I tracked the original down at food52.com, but we didn’t like the way it came out following the original recipe (too dry, too bland) so made some adjustments. That recipe called for these to be baked on parchment paper drizzled with olive oil, but we changed it to pan frying since we thought the baking just dried them out. If you don’t want to bother with the grapefruit aioli, ranch dressing is just as good.  — Barbara Ellis 

Rosemary Cornmeal Crusted Zucchini

Serves: 6
Adapted from a recipe at food52.com.

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini, slice in 1/8 to 1/4 inch rounds
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 eggs
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 tbsp. dried)
Grapefruit Aioli
1 grapefruit, juice and 1 teaspoon zest
1/2 cup canola mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

Slice zucchini and salt to sweat for a few minutes. Pat dry. Mix cornmeal, whole wheat flour, rosemary, black pepper and garlic powder. Beat eggs in a small bowl. Dip zucchini into egg and then into rosemary cornmeal.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. When hot, drop rounds into the pan and brown on each side, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, make the grapefruit aioli: In a small bowl, stir together grapefruit juice and zest, mayonnaise, and sour cream. Keep grapefruit aioli refrigerated until serving time. The zucchini rounds can be served hot or at room temperature with grapefruit aioli drizzled on top or separate as a dipping sauce.

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