If ever a vegetable could be called infamous, it’s zucchini.
Poor guy. He didn’t make the superfood list, but he’s still managed to make a name for himself—either trying to end world hunger or terrorizing gardeners everywhere.
Zucchini even has its own holiday. On August 8, Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day offers overwhelmed gardeners an excuse to pass their produce off on someone else.
But let’s get real. No one wants your zucchini.
If they wanted it, they’d grow it themselves.
After all, it’s easy enough. Fantastically easy. We’re in a drought, and it’s still growing like mad.
As my dad puts it, “You can be dumb as a rock and grow zucchini.”
So, before you decide to celebrate by foisting your abundant harvest on innocent neighbors who never did you any harm, let me give you with a few delicious ways to tackle it yourself.
(And if you’re not growing any zucchini, you should still pay attention. This will prepare you for the possibility of being a victim of one of these stealth attacks — I mean…receiving one of these thoughtful gifts.)
Warning: You can’t turn to the classic zucchini bread as your defense against this plant.
Trust me. I know from experience that it is impossible (yes, even if you spend the whole day in the kitchen) to take out a few hills of zucchini armed only with a dozen recipes for baked goods.
The garden spews zucchini at such a rate that, even if you could keep up, you’d be making more bread than even the most starving family could consume (or your freezer could hold). Plus, you’d be using a frightening amount of flour and eggs (and a disappointing amount of zucchini).
The fact is, to tackle a summer’s worth of zucchini without shifting the burden to your poor neighbors (or composting perfectly good produce), you have to actually eat the thing.
As a vegetable.
Zucchini is great in soup, stir fry, enchiladas, frittatas, and a hundred other dishes, so it’s easy to add one to whatever you were already making.
But if you want to make any real headway, the most efficient way to use zucchini is…
… by itself!
So instead of giving you a recipe that calls for twenty other ingredients (or expounding on my highly developed ring-and-run skills), I’m going to arm you with my top three ways to eat just a zucchini.
1) Baked Zucchini
Slice the zucchini into sticks about the size of your fingers.
Spread the pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
Bake at 400°F (204°C) for 10 minutes.
Turn, sprinkle a bit more salt, and bake to desired tenderness, about 5 minutes.
2) Shaved Zucchini
Note: The yellow variety of summer squash isn’t as notorious as zucchini, but it’s great for all of these too.
Slice off both ends of the squash or zucchini.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
Then, just keep peeling, shaving the vegetable’s flesh into ribbons.
Stop shaving when you reach the seeds in the middle.
Note: Don’t use a monster zucchini for this one. The smaller vegetables have fewer seeds, and they’re better for this method.
Then heat a little olive oil in a pan, and sauté the zucchini ribbons with a bit of kosher salt — no longer than a minute or two.
This is where zucchini actually looks classy. You can top it with sauce or herbs, or let the awesome flavor stand on its own.
3) Dried Zucchini
Cut the zucchini into thin, round slices — 1/4 inch (.5 cm) or less in thickness.
Arrange slices in a dehydrator or on parchment lined baking sheets.
Season with salt (and any other spices), if desired.
Let the zucchini dry in the dehydrator (or at your oven’s lowest setting) until crunchy (mine takes nearly a day).
This is without a doubt the most efficient way to eat zucchini.
You can eat the chips on the go — and it’s easier to fit a whole squash in your stomach when all the water has been removed!
So there you are. With these ideas, you no longer have to admit defeat—neither by recognizing the futility of trying to use a mountain of zucchini in bread or cake, nor by dumping it on your neighbor’s porch.
And you won’t be hungry, either!