How to Buy and Cook Zucchini: A Complete Guide
Meet zucchini, summer's most popular and prolific squash. Here's all you need to know about this low-cal veggie, including how to pick and prep it, and the best ways to cook it -- along with a bushel of top-rated recipes, of course!
This long, slim green veggie looks a little like a smooth cucumber with paler green skin. Because zucchini are mostly water (more than 90 percent!), they're very low calorie. Nutritionally, they feature fiber, along with vitamin C and potassium. But you'll get the most health benefits if you eat the colorful skin, which holds the healthy carotenoids. Zucchini skin is soft, thin, and perfectly edible, so don't peel it off.
How to Pick out and Store Zucchini
Zucchini grown quickly, and they can become enormous if left unharvested. Leave zucchini on the vine too long, and the flesh becomes stringy, tough, and bitter tasting. Smaller zukes are typically the tastiest and most tender. They should be plump and firm without blemishes or soft spots and have a decent weight to them. Larger zucchini are good candidates for stuffing or turning into zucchini relish.
Zucchini are fairly delicate veggies. Store them in the refrigerator -- and if you have an abundance from the garden, it's okay to freeze them. To freeze zucchini, first bring a pot of salted water to boil; slice the zucchini in half and quickly blanch them for 2 minutes; then dunk them in ice water, pat dry, and store in the freezer in plastic freezer bags.
All about Zucchini
Let's go to the video! Here's more on summer's most versatile squash.
How to Cook Zucchini
Mild-flavored zucchini is something of a blank canvas. Like tofu, it tends to take on the flavor profile of the sauces and spices that accompany it. That could be why zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables. You can grill, saute, steam, stew, or bake zucchini with delicious results.
How to Sauté Zucchini
Remember, zucchini are mostly water. So when you cook them, you'll find they release a lot of moisture. To remove excess water, you can salt sliced zucchini like you would eggplant. Set the slices aside in a colander to allow the salt to draw water from the flesh. It takes about 12 to 15 minutes. This move is not strictly necessary, however.
"Quick and easy main dish. A good way to use up extra zucchini from the summer garden. My mother used to make this to keep the kitchen from getting too hot from the oven. Serve over cooked rice." -- LARIPIN
"A one-skillet dish that makes a wonderful side or meal in itself." -- MRS. SHOCKLEY
"Excellent! Shredded zucchini in a creamy sauce." -- Terry
How to Grill Zucchini
The high-heat of grilling is a perfect method for cooking zucchini. No need to salt and drain it. The outside crisps up nicely while the insides remain firm.
"Have too much zucchini from your garden? Try this quick and delicious summer recipe using your grill." -- Nancy
"This is a summer favorite at my house. So easy and tasty, and complements steak, ribs, chicken or fish. By the way, these can be done in the oven under the broiler as well." -- AngieItaliano
"I loved this recipe and my kids did too! Hooray, I made a veggie they will eat." -- cdub125
How to Fry Zucchini
"Love this! It is so easy and uses simple ingredients... And tastes amazing! I keep getting zucchini at farmers market so I can keep making this." -- Lori
"These really taste like crab cakes but without the crab, and are a really good way to utilize that bumper crop of zucchini!" -- Patti Jo
"These aren't your typical zucchini fritters! These are made the Greek way with feta cheese and a hint of mint. Sure to be a hit with your company." -- GreekMuse
How to Bake with Zucchini
Zucchini are great for baking. Try them in brownies, muffins, cookies, and the good ol' standby, zucchini bread -- and savory dishes, too.
"This is a moist fudgy type cake. Sweet but not extremely sweet and makes good use of zucchini! You can frost it with chocolate frosting or cream cheese icing." -- Sandy
"A simple vegetable dish that highlights the summer flavors of fresh tomatoes and zucchini. It goes great with grilled meats or poultry." -- DELTAQUEEN50
"Really, really good and moist- my kids eat it as quickly as I can make it. Bread will freeze well, and keep in refrigerator for weeks." -- v monte
How to Make and Cook Zucchini Noodles
Transform zucchini into noodles for low-carb soups and pasta dishes.
"Chicken noodle has always remained my favorite soup, but I realized it is due to the rich broth, carrots, celery, and onion combo and not really about the noodles. LOVED this! It was the zoodles instead of noodles that bumped this one up a notch over chicken noodle." -- Soup Loving Nicole
"If you are a pasta lover and need a low-carb version closer to the real thing than spaghetti squash, you have found your match! This is a great recipe for one; super-quick and super-versatile. Serve with your favorite sauce." -- DinnerMomma
"Transform zucchini into long strands that resemble noodles, also known as zoodles. Mix pesto and garbanzo beans into the zoodles for a satisfying, grain-free meal!" -- Alli Shircliff
Related: Are Zoodles Really "All That"?
Zucchini's Flavor Friends
In savory situations, zucchini is especially well complemented by garlic, onions, tomatoes, dill, basil, marjoram, chives, oregano, and mint. Try zucchini in soups, stews, or in ratatouille and risotto, as a pizza topping, in stir-fries, and cold salads.
How to Make Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms
And don't forget the zucchini blossoms are totally edible! And DELICIOUS!
Get Chef John's recipe for Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms.
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