Ten things to do with a zucchini

Zucchini and other summer squash can be used many delicious ways and are a great ingredient in a variety of dishes.

Zucchini and cucumber cactuses and pineapple boats picnic centerpiece.Zucchini is in season and is available where fresh fruits and vegetables are sold. Often times, zucchini is given away to friends and neighbors. And occasionally, they are left on the door step or porch like an orphan in the hopes that the resident of the house takes them in. Zucchini is one of those foods that are best purchased and eaten fresh. While they can be preserved and can be dried, they do freeze satisfactorily. However, when they are preserved they are not quite the same as a young zucchini fresh from the garden.

Zucchini, or courgette, is a summer squash. They typically range in color from light green to dark green, but there is also a gold variety available. Summer squash differ from winter squash in that they are selected and eaten when immature and still soft and are not allowed to harden. Most zucchini are picked when they are still small (less than 12 inches long) and typically are treated and cooked as a vegetable, but they are botanically a fruit because they form from a pollinated flower.

For best cooking results, choose a firm slender zucchini with a bright color, no wrinkles and are between six and eight inches long. If you have larger “zucs” to deal with, scoop out the mature seeds and pulp before cooking or serving. There are a plethora of recipes that have zucs either as a main ingredient or as a secondary ingredient.

Ten easy ways to use a zucchini:

  1. In a casserole – try this recipe zucchini carrot casserole.
  2. In a soup – try this recipe for spicy zucchini soup.
  3. Grilled – try one of these four variations of grilled zucchini. 
  4. Baked – try making this baked zucchini chips recipe.
  5. On a pizza – pair zucchini with ricotta cheese in this pizza recipe.
  6. In a salad – this raw zucchini salad recipe calls for dill, lemon juice and feta cheese.
  7. In a dessert – try this southern zucchini cake recipe.
  8. Pickled – this recipe makes “Café-style” zucchini pickles.
  9. Stuffed – use other veggies from your garden in this simple recipe.
  10. As a table decoration – be creative and try some carving techniques.

The recipes listed above are just examples of all the great ways to both use zucchini and to share with others. For more information about gardening in Michigan visit the Gardening in Michigan website.

You may also find this Michigan State University Extension fact sheet on summer squash helpful.

A list of summer squash varieties can be found on the University of Illinois Extension website.

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