Friday, June 27, 2014

My Top 10 Ways to Prepare Zucchini

Romanesco (hybrid) Zucchini

Zucchini season is upon many of us and I've noticed a proliferation of zucchini recipes popping up on blogs and food websites that I read. Dave over at Our Happy Acres posted his 5 favorite zucchini recipes which got me thinking about my favorite ways to prepare zucchini. I don't know if it's good thing or a bad thing, I guess it just indicates how versatile a vegetable I find zucchini to be, but I could not whittle my favorite list down beyond 8, so instead I've bumped the list up to my top 10.

Looking at my list, I can see that I tend to lean towards zucchini dishes that are substantial enough to serve as a main course (not necessarily vegetarian). Many of the preparations take advantage of zucchini's relative blandness and it's ability to stay in the background. The first one on the list though is all about the delicate flavor of fresh raw zucchini.

So here in no particular order are the 10 most prepared zucchini dishes that come out of my kitchen (click on most of the titles to see the recipe):

Shaved Zucchini and Arugula Salad is a really simple dish that relies on using the freshest and best quality ingredients to make it shine. Raw zucchini is paired with arugula and parmigiano with a simple dressing to make a refreshing salad.

Zucchini in Agrodolce (sorry, no photo) is the first dish that my Dave requests when zucchini season starts. Simple panfried slices of zucchini are marinated in a sweet and sour sauce that features garlic, anchovy, pine nuts and raisins. Good hot, warm or cold. There are rarely any leftovers when I make this dish.

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms in Sage Butter is Dave's other most requested zucchini recipe. Yeah, yeah, it doesn't actually use any of the squash, but where's there's squash there's blossoms and these are worth the effort to collect the blossoms. The hybrid Romanesco zucchini that I'm growing this year (shown at the top of this post) produces huge blossoms on each zucchini and the zucchinis are large enough to harvest the day that the blossoms open so I've got a steady supply of blossoms in addition to zucchinis.

Scarpaccia is the zucchini dish I look forward to when the zucchini start to roll in. It's a thin pancake-like tart with crispy edges and a creamy center. It makes great picnic fare, a popular appetizer, or a tasty vegetarian main dish.

Zucchini Hummus is something that I devised last year when faced with a glut of zucchini. It's based on the classic chickpea hummus but I substituted lightly steamed zucchini for the chickpeas. It turned out to be a winner and tasters had no clue that there was zucchini in it without being told.

Sauteed Zucchini is something that I don't really have a recipe for and every time I make it it is different. But lately I've dug into my drawer of gadgets and pulled out my very low tech wavy slicer. I love the way that the ridged zucchini slices grab the seasonings if you finely chop them. The seasonings always vary, but lately I've been using plenty of fresh garlic. Other seasonings that I routinely reach for are pepper flakes, chopped capers, or herbs such as rosemary or basil. Sometimes I'll add chopped anchovies, or when I want that anchovy umami and don't have any on hand I'll add a couple splashes of Red Boat fish sauce.

Zucchini Saltimbocca or zucchini that jumps in your mouth. A zucchini version of the classic veal saltimbocca from chef Michael Chiarello. Prosciutto, cheese, and sage sandwiched between zucchini slices, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and pan fried. Heavenly.

Three gratins from the book Provence The Beautiful - all different and delicious and I couldn't possible choose a favorite.

Zucchini Gratin - diced zucchini with onions, anchovies, olives, and hard-cooked eggs sprinkled with breadcrumbs, drizzled with olive oil and baked until golden.

Zucchini and Greens Gratin - shredded zucchini and chard seasoned with bacon, onion, parsley and garlic, bound together with parmigiano and eggs, baked until set and golden. I need to put this on my short list, my chard is growing like weeds.

Zucchini and Rice Gratin - thinly sliced zucchini seasoned with onion and marjoram, baked with milk, breadcrumbs, eggs, parmigiano, and rice. Substantial enough to make a main course.

That's it for now, the list would have been different a few years ago when I indulged in sweets more often. There's a killer chocolate zucchini cake from Saveur magazine and I developed my own whole wheat olive oil zucchini bread and zucchini cornmeal muffins. But those are just occasional treats now made only when I can share with a crowd.

I hope you find something on the list to inspire you!


  1. I have got to try the scarpaccia, and the hummus. The zucchini and arugula salad sounds interesting too. It all sounds good, for that matter!

  2. Thanks for the suggestions! Mine are producing like mad. I've already started giving some away to our neighbors. The taste of Romanesco is phenomenal too. I just saute them them in a bit of butter, soy sauce, pinch of sugar, and red chili paste on extra high heat so they caramelize on the outside. Yum!

  3. These are such different & delicious sounding recipes - that zucchini saltimbocca - yum! I am always on the lookout for new ways of using chard as well, so the gratin will get added to my list. Next year, I will definitely add Romanesco to the varieties I grow. In the past I have had pollination problems with my zucchini but it seems that this would not be an issue with Romanesco since it is a harvestable size by the time the flowers open up.

  4. Thanks for sharing great recipes and ideas! I will use some, because I'll probably have a lot of courgettes to cook with :)

  5. They sound delicious, but the scarpaccia link doesn't work. I'll have to try the hummus too. It seems like a good way to use up that zucchini.

    1. Thanks for letting me know about the link, it's working now.

  6. I am so pinning this so I have it handy when my zucchini are ready to harvest. So many recipes that I want to try.

  7. I am eating some of the hummus now. Made with fresh garlic, it is divine!

    1. I'm so happy you liked it! Thanks for letting me know.

  8. Michelle, I just found your website and adore it. I joined as a member and will start following. Lots of beautiful photos but most importantly LOTS of great ideas how to use all of the wonderful produce that we are all growing. Thanks. I have put a link to your website on my blog. Thanks!


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