Never Enough Zucchini Recipes

In "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," novelist Barbara Kingsolver's account of eating locally for a year, there's a chapter called "Zucchini Larceny." The summer squash in the family garden had lived up to its reputation as the vegetable that keeps on giving, and in one passage, Kingsolver suggests to her husband that they get a pig to help them with the surplus. Though she doesn't buy a pig, Kingsolver does discover that she's not the only one with a squashy problem:

Garrison Keillor says July is the only time of year when country people lock our cars in the church parking lot, so people don't put squash on the front seat. I used to think that was a joke.

"Crabcakes" made with grated zucchini. (Kim O'Donnel)

I don't have a garden of my own -- something that I hope to change next year. But even as a farmer's market customer, I have overabundance issues. The zucchini isn't just prolific, its yields are huge, too.

One of the recipes below (we'll get to those in a moment) calls for 2 cups of coarsely grated zucchini. Thinking that I'd need at least 2 decent-sized squash, I bought twice that amount for two recipes. As it turns out, the zucchini had the upper hand (natch), giving me 2 cups grated from just ONE large green mama.

I've given up trying to do zucchini math, so instead I focused my energy on finding ways to use them. In the course of recipe research, I discovered that I am warming up to the old gal, who sometimes reminds me of a lazy alligator (or maybe it's hippo), lulling about the muddy river banks.

So give her a hand for being versatile, folks. Below, she shows up in two unlikely places: in chocolate chip cookie dough and as a stand-in for crabmeat. She never fails to surprise.

For a few more zukey ideas: This time last year, I discovered zuke-a-mole, a puree of roasted zukes and onions that has the consistency of avocado-based guacamole. Another old reliable is chocolate-zucchini cake, a moist Bundt-style number that is good enough for breakfast.

Please share your favorite way of reducing the zucchini surplus in the comments area. We can use all the help we get!

I Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Crab Crab Cakes

Adapted from John Shields, chef/owner of Gertrude's, Baltimore, Md.; recipe appears in "Cooking Fresh From the Mid-Atlantic" edited by Fran McManus & Wendy Rickard

KOD note: Years ago, I had heard from a vegetarian reader about this method of shredding zucchini and seasoning it with Old Bay to mimic a crab cake. I should have heeded her advice much sooner; these are a vegetarian dream come true! It is remarkable how much these taste like crab cakes, particularly if patties are small and thin. A real kick in the pants.

2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg beaten
1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise or plain yogurt
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
vegetable oil, for frying

Place grated zucchini in a colander; sprinkle lightly with salt. Let zucchini sit for about 30 minutes, allowing it to drain. Squeeze to remove additional liquid - zucchini should be fairly dry.

Place zucchini and bread crumbs in a large bowl and mix together.

Place egg, Old Bay, Dijon, mayo, lemon juice and parsley in a small bowl. Mix well.

Pour egg mixture into zucchini-bread crumb mixture, and mix gently and thoroughly. Form into 8 patties the size of crab cakes. Heat a small amount of oil in a saute pan, and cook patties on both sides, browning well.

Serve with tartar sauce, chopped capers, fresh basil and/or lemon wedges. Goes really well with halved sun gold or cherry tomatoes.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies
From "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver

KOD note: This recipe yields a fairly soft cookie; for something crispier, I might replace the honey (used presumably to satisfy Kingsolver's local requirements) with equal amounts of brown or granulated sugar.

1 egg, beaten
½ cup butter, softened (I used Earth Balance brand shortening; I also think replacing 1/2 the butter with applesauce would work as well, but if you do this, eliminate the honey and use more sugar)
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup white flour
1cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine egg and butter and beat until creamy, about 1 minute. Add sugar, honey and vanilla and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, and stir to combine. Slowly integrate dry ingredients into wet, until well combined, with beater or by hand. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350 degrees, 10-15 minutes.

Makes about 4 dozen.

By Kim ODonnel |  July 20, 2007; 10:14 AM ET Getting Fresh , Summer , Vegetarian/Vegan
Previous: Has the Farm Bill Made Us Fat? | Next: When Pantry Comes to the Rescue


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I love zucchini, but then I'm an old country girl.

My grandma and mom always made them this way: Slice into rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Then saute in oil of choice (Mom used canola, but grandma used lard -- Not too veggies or healthy, but yum!) with favorite seasonings. Saute until you can just pierce slices with a fork. Serve hot, warm, room temp or cold.

My husband will cook up a large amount this way at the beginning of the week. He then uses them in various ways -- in eggs, on a salad, added at last moment to a stir-fry. I like them cold myself as a sandwich filling.

Thanks for the great memories, Kim.

Posted by: minniwanca | July 20, 2007 12:24 PM

My roommate in Italy used to boil them whole until they were tender and then eat them cut up in chunks with balsamic vinegar and salt. It actually makes a good snack, if you really like zucchini.

Posted by: thistle | July 20, 2007 1:25 PM

i make a zucchini pie. sorry i don't have the exact recipe but it's
2 cups zuke (either chunks or grated)
1 cup bisquick
4 eggs
oil (not sure how much)
s & p
parm cheese (i want to say 1 cup)

put in greased dish. bake at 350 for 45 minutes. really really good. it's kind of like a quiche or a frittata.

Posted by: quark | July 20, 2007 1:52 PM

I like to slice, dip in beaten egg or milk, roll in equal parts flour and parmesan cheese, fry in canola oil--sprinkle with Italian style seasoning; more parmesan; Mexican style seasoning; probably many more.

Posted by: Dona Dunsmore | July 20, 2007 1:55 PM

I make zuchinni bread. 3-4 medium sized zukes grated up makes two loaves. Mix with oil, flour, sugar, eggs, nuts, raisins. Delicious with butter or cream cheese spread.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | July 20, 2007 3:39 PM

This recipe is loosely based on one in The Victory Garden Cookbook, and my grandmother used to make it. You shred zucchini on a box grater, salt it with kosher salt, let it sit for 10 min or so, then rinse and squeeze it out. Chop up a few fresh, leafy herbs of your choice - mint is nice, basil is also good, maybe chives. Sauté zucchini and herbs in a very small amount of olive oil until tender or translucent.

I'm really not a big zucchini fan except when it's unrecognizable in baked goods, but this recipe is yummy.

Posted by: Reine de Saba | July 20, 2007 5:09 PM

I like to make this Cream of Zucchini (sans cream) soup, which is good hot, cold or room temp.

Curried Zucchini Soup
1 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped yellow onions
2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
2 medium red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 pounds zucchini, trimmed and chopped
3 ½ cups vegetable stock or chicken stock (two 14 oz. or one 28 oz. can)

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the curry powder, salt, and red pepper, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, carrots and zucchini, reduce to medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the zucchini is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat. With a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.
Soup can be served hot or cold.

Posted by: miss jaunty | July 20, 2007 5:20 PM

An easy method of cooking zucchini, squash or even eggplant is as follows:

Preheat broiler. Cut vegetables into rounds about 1/4 - 1/2" thick. Put in bowl and toss with enough olive oil to coat. Add salt (preferably sea salt) and freshly ground pepper to taste. Put vegetables on cookie sheet and put in oven for about 5 minutes (until they just start to turn brown). Sprinkle 2 or 3 tablesppons balsamic vinegar over vegetables and shske pan. Place under broiler for another 2 mins. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup (or more to taste) of freshly grated parmesan cheese and broil another minute or so until melted (I like the cheese to turn light brown). Delicious.

Posted by: Chevy Chase | July 20, 2007 6:10 PM

My mother made the zucchini "crabcakes", too! A slight variation - no mayo, mustard, Old Bay or breadcrumbs (although with the latter, I think you have a point). Instead, egg, flour, herbs de provence, and shredded carrot (sometimes with shredded fresh beet, but I know you hate them, Kim). Served with sour cream and smoked salmon. The little cakes also freeze really well and then I just spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil spray and pop them in, making sure to flip over, once one side becomes golden....

Posted by: Foxtrot | July 22, 2007 12:12 PM

Try slicing zucchini very very thinly on a mandoline and making carpaccio. Salt the slices and let drain in a colander, then rinse and squeeze out. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil and grated parm.

Epicurious has a nice version that includes chopped arugula (I use baby arugula) that is a lovely salad to take to a picnic.

Posted by: Alchemy | July 23, 2007 10:00 AM

yummy zucchini casserole

2-3 med zucchini or summer squash sliced (you can use both together)
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 cup onion-chopped
1 cup sour cream-lite is fine
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup of milk
1 pkg. stuffing mix-seasoned

Saute vegetables in lightly oiled pan (or use cooking spray) until soft-about 5-10 minutes. Combine soup, sour cream & milk in bowl. In a greased casserole dish layer vegetables, soup mixture & stuffing mix. Repeat layers with stuffing mix on top. Bake at 350 degrees about 20 minutes until warm & bubbly. Enjoy!

Posted by: cindy | July 23, 2007 10:46 AM

No sooner did you post this, Kim, then we got a zucchini from our CSA. Saturday night was pretty blah after a day out, so I thought to make the "crab" cake recipe as my wife put our son down for a nap.

She was highly skeptical, but in the end she was a convert! Me too! Great recipe :)

Posted by: Gee | July 23, 2007 1:44 PM

I just tried a new recipe -- you sautee slices of zucchini and a few cloves of crushed garlic in olive oil over medium low heat, then add a skinned, finely chopped tomato, and a little dried thyme, S&P, and cook till the zukes are tender.

Another old favorite is zuchini, eggplant, and tomato cassarole. You pre-bake the eggplant rounds in the oven to dry them out, then put them in a cassarole, alternating with lengthwise slices of zucchini that have been sweated with salt, and thick tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 until done -- this is good with plenty herbs de provance scattered in the bottom of the pan and on top -- and some breadcrumbs on top are pretty good too.

Posted by: Rita | July 23, 2007 2:34 PM

Thistle has the right idea: Boil smaller, whole zukes until tender. Slice into chunks and toss with olive oil, vinegar of choice or lemon juice, chopped parsley, salt & pepper; then add sliced hard-cooked eggs. This is a Lidia Bastianich(sp) recipe and it is simply delicious!

Posted by: Fiver | July 23, 2007 4:09 PM

Does the "crab cakes" recipe use dried bread crumbs or fresh ones?

Posted by: vwprc | July 25, 2007 12:18 PM

What would you serve as a side to the "crab" cakes? I'm thinking of trying them out tonight.

Posted by: Karen | July 26, 2007 1:28 PM

Vwprc: I had some leftover stale bread and threw into food processor, so it was kind of inbetween real dry and a bit fresh, if you know what I mean. Worked fine. If you've got a can of bread crumbs on hand, by all means...

Karen, I think a salad of tomatoes with parsley or basil, a little cuke, is just lovely. A piece of melon, some feta, a little cold cous cous salad perhaps?

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | July 26, 2007 2:16 PM

I just made the zucchini "crab" cakes. They really do taste like the real thing. I will definitely add them to my bag of tricks. I cooked up a side of pasta with marinara and a basil and tomato salad to go with it.
A warning to others, I over-salted the grated zucchini (I'm a novice cook and wasn't sure how much to use). In the end I squeezed a bowl bottom into the zuch-filled colander to drain the rest of the water anyway. I squeezed lemon over the finish cakes and made a mayo dip to help cut through the salt. Otherwise, it was a great little meal.

Posted by: MW | July 27, 2007 1:08 AM

I made the "faux" crab cakes last night, and they were AWESOME! And my husband hates zucchini! I served them with tartar sauce, hush puppies, a few tater tots, and a salad. We felt like we were at the beach. We are both vegetarians, btw. Thanks, Kim!

Posted by: Kelly | July 27, 2007 10:48 AM

I made the zucchini cakes this weekend, and they were quite good. I put them in a sandwich with some remoulade and capers. I did have one problem with the receipe, though. As someone who is allergic to shellfish, I have never had an actual crab cake. So when the recipe said to make the patties "the size of crab cakes," I was lost. I would have preferred an actual measurement size. That said, thanks for the recipe!

Posted by: yellowliner | July 30, 2007 2:24 PM

I love zucchini cakes and make them all year round, but they are especially good with the garden fresh produce of summer. Zucchini also is delicious stuffed with a mixture of ground chicken (or lean ground beef), onion, garlic, lemon zest, a bit of salt, freshly ground pepper and tomatoes. Slice the zukes lengthwise, scoop out enough of the pulp to make boats (add this to the meat/veggie mixture as it sautes in a little extra virgin olive oil). Mix in the fresh herbs of your choice (basil, thyme, oregano, etc. Fill the boats, top with a little marinara sauce, cover and bake until the zuke boats are tender, but not over done. Shed a little fresh Parm on top after the zukes come out of the oven. A vegetarian version, of course, can be made with veggies of choice with the same treatment as the meat version. Equally tasty and a lighter meal.

Posted by: Rebecca in VA. | July 31, 2007 9:10 AM

Chilled avocado soup--to die for!

2 very ripe avocados
2 med zucchini
2 cups chicken broth
Whirl in food processor till well-blended
Add 2 T lime juice, 2 T finely chopped white onion, salt, white pepper and cumin to taste

Mix in 2 c. plain yogurt (Greek is best, or strain the regular stuff for 20 min)
Serve will chilled, garnished with chopped chives and a couple of croutons or a crostini, if you like

Posted by: Penny | August 14, 2007 12:27 PM

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