Despite my excitement about zucchini and summer squash hitting the market and showing up in my CSA, it doesn't take long before I am totally overwhelmed. It's probably the same way you feel when it takes over your garden. You can't use it up or share it fast enough.
Recipes certainly offer helpful ways to put it to work, but if you're anything like me, you turn to the same few over and over again. Instead, I think the most useful way to tackle the nonstop flow of zucchini starts with inspiration. Get some creative ideas, and the actual recipes will follow.
1. Bake into muffins, quick bread, and breakfast cookies.
Stick with a classic zucchini quick bread recipe, or branch out by mixing cocoa powder into the batter for a chocolatey variation. Depending on the recipe, these breakfast baked goods typically call for one to two cups of shredded zucchini.
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2. Bake into an egg casserole.
Zucchini is a wonderful partner to eggs. No need to par-cook it first — just cut the zucchini into thick slices and add it to the pan with eggs before baking.
Get a recipe: Best Zucchini Breakfast Casserole
3. Slice into a gratin.
Zucchini and summer squash are totally interchangeable when it comes to gratins. Keep it simple with a crispy breadcrumb and Parm topping, or go for something more comforting that's creamy and cheesy.
4. Stir-fry it.
Whether a recipe calls for it or not, zucchini and summer squash always have a place in any and all stir-fries. It's a relatively quick-cooking vegetable, so plan to add it after sturdy veggies like broccoli, and before leafy greens.
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5. Make a grilled side dish or salad.
Cut it into thick slices or rounds, and this summer staple is perfect for grilling. A simple grilled zucchini side or warm salad is versatile enough to pair with anything you're cooking up for dinner.
Get a recipe: The Ultimate Grilled Zucchini Salad
6. Make zucchini boats.
While this fun dish works best with medium to large zucchinis, any size will do the trick. Halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out some of the flesh, and fill it with anything your heart desires.
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7. Spiralize into zucchini noodles.
Zucchini noodles can be turned into salads and sides, or substituted for pasta or grains. When using them raw, salt them first to draw out some of the moisture. If you don't have a spiralizer, use a mandoline or julienne peeler to make your noodles.
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8. Bread and bake into fries.
Since zucchini has a high water content, plan to cut them into small batons. The smaller size helps the inside of the fry maintains a tender bite without becoming soggy. And of course, don't forget the dipping sauce.
Get a recipe: Baked Zucchini Fries
9. Make ratatouille.
Anytime I'm inundated with zucchini, my first instinct is to make a big pot of ratatouille, the chunky French stew of eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers, and ripe tomatoes. It's wonderful hot or cold, on its own, spooned over pasta or grains, topped with a fried egg, and so much more. Make it with any type of summer squash you have handy, and remember that it also freezes well.
10. Bake into a galette.
Grab a package of frozen pie dough, pull some cheese from the fridge, and turn that pile of zucchini into a savory rustic galette.
11. Grate into overnight oats.
Here's one more way to work an extra dose of veggies into a wholesome breakfast, with a spiced flavor reminiscent of zucchini bread.
Get a recipe: Zucchini Bread Overnight Oats
12. Make a batch of savory pancakes.
Now's the time to make pancakes a savory affair. Start with your favorite pancake recipe or box of store-bought mix, and mix in a pile of grated and pressed zucchini. Top it off with a dollop of yogurt and squeeze of lemon.
Get a recipe: Savory Carrot & Zucchini Pancakes
13. Add to a pot of soup.
Want to use up a whole lot of zucchini and squash? Chop it up and toss it into a pot of summer-inspired soup.
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14. Use as the base for a no-lettuce salad.
Just the way you prep a vegetable can make it instantly more interesting. This is exactly what happens when you use your vegetable peeler to shave zucchini into long, thin strips to be used as the base for a salad.
Get a recipe: Chicken and Veggie Pesto Salad
15. Mix into pasta salad.
No matter the dressing, pasta salad is a total blank canvas for any and all veggies you have on hand. Use up your haul by making zucchini and squash the stars of the show.
Get a recipe: How To Make the Easiest Pasta Salad
16. Cooked in a foil-packet meal.
Make foil packets your go-to summer dinner solution. They can be cooked on the grill, in the oven, or even on a campfire with minimal cleanup and even less prep.
Get a recipe: Sausage & Potato Foil Packets
17. Blended into smoothies.
Yes, zucchini is the thing your smoothies have been missing. Not only does it feel great to work an extra dose of veggies into breakfast, but it also adds an extra-creamy, frothy texture.
Try it here: Raspberry and Almond Butter Smoothie
18. Make panzanella.
This classic Italian salad starts with a stale loaf of bread, and is just waiting for you to change up the classic version with summer squash and any type of summer produce you have hanging out in the crisper.
Get a recipe: Spicy Panzanella Salad
19. Cook in risotto.
Speed up cooking by grating the zucchini against the largest holes on a box grater, then stir it into the rice in the final minutes on the stovetop.
Get a recipe: Summer Squash Risotto
20. Sauté into a weeknight side.
Perhaps one of the simplest ways to put this prolific vegetable to work is in a quick weeknight side. Sautéed summer squash is quick to pull together, and partners well with everything from garlic to fresh herbs to cheese.
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21. Mix into grain salads.
Grain salads are a top pick for make-ahead lunches, and thanks to its firm, hearty texture, zucchini won't get soggy.
Get a recipe: Lemon Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini
22. Grate into yogurt dip.
There's a lot to feel good about when you can work zucchini into meals and snacks in unexpected ways. Like dip! Grated zucchini has a place in any of your favorite yogurt dips.
Get a recipe: Zucchini, Mint and Yogurt Spread
23. Layer in lasagna.
To avoid a soggy vegetable lasagna, this version skips pre-cooking the noodles and roasts the vegetables ahead of time.
Get a recipe: Ina Garten's Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
24. Make succotash.
If you don't know about succotash, you should. While a classic succotash is all about corn, this version leans hard on summer squash and chickpeas. Serve it as a salad or side dish for everything you pull off the grill or a bed for fried eggs.
Get the recipe: Summer Squash Succotash
25. Layer into breakfast tacos.
For a summery twist, swap chopped summer squash or zucchini for potatoes as the base for your next batch of breakfast tacos.
Get a recipe: Breakfast Tacos
26. Top with an egg and bake into shakshuka.
This riff on classic shakshuka swaps saucy tomatoes for your haul of summer squash and zucchini.
Get a recipe: Summer Squash Shakshuka with Baked Eggs
27. Pickle it.
Still not sure what to do? You can never go wrong with quick pickling any leftover veggie you have in the fridge. Use pickled zucchini as a taco topping; in salads, grain bowls, and sandwiches; or just eat them as you would pickles.
Get a recipe: Pickled Yellow Squash
28. Freeze it.
Cut your zucchini into rounds or spears and stash them in the freezer for later.
Here's how: How To Freeze Zucchini