20 Ways to Use Your Zukes

Zucchini and summer squash are abundant during the hottest months, and here’s an abundance of ideas for putting these goodies to good use.
By Tabitha Alterman
June/July 2011
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The possibilities are endless! Add slices of squash to soups, stews, curries, stir-fries, pizzas, pasta, kabobs, pots of beans and rice, and so much more.
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When it comes to zucchini and other summer squash (such as pattypan and yellow crookneck) the high season translates into big quantities of fresh goods that come with little price tags — especially if you grow your own. Your task in the kitchen is to let your mind expand and find as many clever ways as you can to prepare summer squash. These blank canvases of the summer kitchen can be served raw or cooked; shredded, sliced or diced; and can be included in practically any meal. Eventually, you’ll get brave enough to hide some in almost every dish and never tell a soul. Don’t worry — this supporting actor is happy to be part of an ensemble cast as you let other, more flavorful or expensive characters charm your audience.

What follows is by no means an exhaustive list of summer squash preparation ideas. You’ll find many more on the Web and in cookbooks, and we’d love for you to share your own tips and recipes by posting a comment below.

1.  Serve raw chunks alongside other crudité veggies with creamy dips.

2.  Grate raw squash into fresh green salads.

3.  Drizzle vinaigrette over julienned strips for a quick summer salad.

4.  Steam slices for an easy side dish.

5. Sauté slices with butter and herbs.

6. Add long strips to boiling pasta near the end of cooking.

7. Toss slices in oil, salt and pepper, then grill for 10 minutes.

8. Toss slices in oil, salt and pepper, then roast in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, turning once.

9. Grate squash instead of cheese into scrambled eggs.

10. Dip slices in egg wash, then dip in cornmeal batter and fry.

11. Dip slices or blossoms in a tempura batter, then fry.

12. Slice squash in half lengthwise, scoop out enough of the seed mass to make room for filling (the scooped flesh can be added to — you guessed it! — anything else), then stuff the “shells” with breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs and cooked rice, beans or meat. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

13. Bake zucchini bread.

14. Add grated zucchini to any cake batter for extra moisture.

15. Pickle squash and zucchini slices with carrots, celery, cauliflower, onions and jalapeños to make a spicy Italian condiment called giardiniera that’s great on sandwiches.

16. Dry slices along with other veggies, then grind into a fine vegetable bouillon powder.

17. Slip peeled, puréed zucchini into fruity sorbet mixtures before freezing. No, really. Do it.

18. Add slices of squash to soups, stews, curries, stir-fries, pizzas, pasta, kabobs, and pots of beans and rice.

19. Add diced bits to fillings for Mexican stuffed peppers, Spanish enchiladas, Chinese dumplings, Polish pierogies, Italian manicotti and Latin American arepas and empanadas.

20. Add diced bits to ... [insert your own idea!]

Summer Squash Tips

For Peak Flavor: The best-tasting summer squash varieties are ‘Costata Romanesca,’ which has a distinctive nutty quality, and ‘Tromboncino,’ which is incredibly rich for a summer squash. To improve the flavor of any summer squash, try grilling or roasting it. Both methods will remove water and concentrate the flavors.

For Peak Nutrition: Don’t skip the skins! That’s where you’ll find most of the flavor, not to mention fiber and other good-for-you bits.

Beware: Summer squash contains a lot of water. If you want to avoid adding liquid to a recipe, grate and salt the squash first, let it drain for a few minutes, then pat dry with a towel.

Helpful Math: 1 pound = 4 cups diced (reduces by nearly half if salted and drained of liquid)


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Post a comment below.

 

Andrea Andres
7/15/2012 6:27:19 PM
You can also shred it and use it in smoothies - especially 'green hulk' smoothies, as we call them, with spinach, banana, strawberries, yogurt, honey and orange juice.

KEITH CHEN
6/30/2012 7:49:35 PM
I wring grated zucchini out in a linen dish towel. I then mix with other grated veggies, egg, bread crumbs and spices, form it into patties and fry. The mixture should be the consistence of uncooked meatloaf. That is a signature summer dish of this household. The bigger and starchier the zucchini, the better. If interested I could expand on the topic.

Marcie W
6/29/2012 5:18:54 PM
and don't forget the chickens ... they love fresh squash, zukes and cucumber, sliced and served to them. Our chickens run for them in this HOT weather. They get a cool treat and extra water too.

nan fischer
7/3/2011 7:48:41 AM
I like to saute zuke slices or chunks with onions and garlic, herbs of choice (basil, tarragon, dill weed, savory, sage, marjoram, oregano or whatever else is in the garden), add a few paste tomatoes or marinara sauce, and serve with jack cheese melted on top. Great side or main dish. I also like to roast zuke slices or chunks in a Dutch oven with potatoes, beets, an onion, carrots and cabbage. Great fall dish! You can add chicken or tofu, too. The variations are endless. Long live zucchini!








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