Chef's Hat: It's the time of overabundance

Don't worry; there are plenty of ways to use zucchini from your - or your neighbor's - garden. Try Parmesan Crusted Zucchini or Zucchini Bites.


It never fails. Once a vine of zucchini starts producing, it sets off a chain reaction and there are more squash than any one person or any one family can eat - no matter how many cakes or loaves of bread they bake.

Most of us do not even have to grow the squash. Neighbors and relatives always end up with too much, and somehow an ample supply of zucchini turns up at your front door.

While zucchini is thought of as a vegetable, technically this summer squash is a fruit since it grows from a flower. Zucchini grows in warm climates and seems to thrive in our area. For some reason, zucchini has gotten a bad name - perhaps because people are always trying to give it away.

And that is unfortunate because this summer squash is full of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and folic acid.

This squash has a very mild and slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Its texture holds up well for many types of cooking, including sautéing, grilling and frying. Overcooking may mean you end up with a somewhat mushy dish.


Drawing out the excess water will help to make sure the zucchini in your recipe holds up and doesn’t turn into a pulpy mess. Simply cut a zucchini in half. Sprinkle generously with salt several minutes before cooking. Once moisture beads appear on top (about five minutes) wipe off the salt and the moisture.

Of course, zucchini is often added to muffins, breads and cakes. It is also easy to incorporate into a wide variety of dishes, especially since this squash can be eaten both raw and cooked.

  • Raw zucchini can be sliced and added to salads.
  • Zucchini can be added to soups and stews.
  • Simply grill or sauté this squash with a little garlic and olive oil and serve as a side dish.
  • Besides baking in muffins or breads, add zucchini to pancake batter.
  • Do you have a spiralizer sitting around collecting dust? Run your zucchini through it and use the spiraled zucchini for a healthier pasta dish.

Zucchini Bites and Parmesan Crusted Zucchini are two great ways to serve this summer squash. They are both fast and easy to prepare and will appeal to even the pickiest eaters. So don’t throw those magically appearing zucchini into your compost pile. There are plenty of ways to use them up. Happy Eating!
Parmesan Crusted Zucchini

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • One large zucchini, peeled and ends cut off
  • Garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup marinara sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Slice the zucchini into ¼-inch thick slices. You should get 18 to 24 slices.

Place the slices into a medium sized bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the slices. Sprinkle the garlic salt on the zucchini. Add the mozzarella cheese and toss. Place on to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top of the slices. Place in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and slightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes.

Serve with warmed marinara sauce.

Use an abundance of zucchini this time of year to make tasty Zucchini Bites. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent


Zucchini Bites

  • 2 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (peeled if desired)
  • Garlic salt
  • ¼ cup pizza sauce
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Italian seasoning
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Optional toppings: sliced olives, pepperoni, sliced jalapenos

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Place the zucchini rounds on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the garlic salt on top. Place a small amount of pizza sauce on each round. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning on top of the pizza sauce. If desired, place olives, a bit of pepperoni or jalapenos on top. Add a few shavings of mozzarella cheese to each round.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, just until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Use an abundance of zucchini this time of year to make tasty Zucchini Bites. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

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