Gadzukes! 10 Ways to Use Up Your Zucchini Bounty

It’s the end of the summer. And once again you are suffering from that chronic malaise common to the home gardener: Zucchini Fatigue.

Your current condition is entirely your own doing. In total defiance of common sense and Mother Nature you’ve planted too much squash. Again.

You can try and point the angry finger at the seed companies whose catalogues you read with the attention that most people reserve for porn—after all, who wouldn’t be seduced by the glamour shots of the Zephyr F1 Hybrid or the slinky elegance of the Climbing Trombocino?

(I’ll admit that, personally, I have planted the Ronde de Nice variety in a state of pure denial. How can a French vegetable be a zucchini? See, we’re all weak-willed around summer squash).

So, now, like that mad scientist in the movies who is sloppy with the plutonium, you’ve created an unstoppable monster in your yard that’s producing a dozen full-sized fruit every day. You hate ratatouille in a way that you never thought possible. Zucchini bread is now strictly verboten in your household. You’ve given so many zucchinis out to your neighbors that they cross the street when they walk past your house. You’ve officially lost control of your harvest.

One of the first rules of home gardening is “Never compost angry.” Instead of dumping your overachieving produce in a blind rage, here are 10 ways to use 100% of your zucchini crop.

1. Nip them in the bud, literally.

Eat the flowers before they have a chance to become giant vegetables.

Fiori di Zucchini

My absolute favorite method of preparing squash blossoms is the classic Roman version of Fiori di Zucchini.

lots of zuchinni flowers

To make this dish:

  1. Wash the blossoms and remove the center pistil of the flowers. (Do this carefully, as the petals tear easily).
  2. Stuff the blossoms with fresh mozzarella cheese and anchovies, twisting the petals shut.
  3. Batter the blossoms with a thin batter made of a little flour and some soda water.
  4. Fry the blossoms in olive oil.

I’ve also tried versions of this dish where ricotta or goat cheese were used instead of the mozzarella. Olives, chives, garlic, nutmeg, and basil are all delicious additions to this basic recipe.

Zucchini Pasta

Cooks who have too many blossoms, and not enough time for hand-stuffing flowers, can use the following recipe to create a very simple, elegant, and cheap pasta dish in less than 15 minutes:

  1. Sauté two cloves of garlic, some crushed chili pepper and lemon zest in butter.
  2. Remove the garlic and add just the petals of 20 zucchini blossoms that have been cut into strips.
  3. Cook for a minute until the blossoms start to wilt.
  4. Salt to taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. Cook enough pasta for four people.
  6. Add cooked and drained pasta to the blossoms and toss in the pan until coated.
  7. Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve.

More Zucchini Recipes

Zucchini blossoms can also be used to make incredible and beautiful tempura.

See also Linsey's recipe for fried squash flowers.

2. Sell them on Craigslist.

organic zucchini

Capitalize on the demand for totally organic and locally grown produce by selling your zucchini via Craigslist to cooks in your area. Believe it or not, there are some people who must actually purchase zucchini. These people, clearly, don’t live near you. If you’ve really overplanted, consider approaching nearby restaurants about buying your surplus harvest.

3. Turn the zucchini into a “Caviar Delivery System.”

Invite your friends over for a vodka/ladke cocktail party. Instead of using grated potato, make delicious fritters from grated and battered zucchini. These are delicious when served with crème fraiche and caviar. They can also be served without the booze as a savory breakfast treat. If your friends ask if you are, “trying to serve them zucchini again,” give them a hurt look. Then, as if you are struggling to hide the distain in your voice say, “It’s courgette.”

4. Practice scrimshaw.

5. Donate your zucchini.

Donate homegrown zucchini to your local food bank, soup kitchen or homeless shelter and share your fresh, organic produce with the people who really need it.

6. Make chic home decor.

Green up your house by turning zucchini into chic home decor. Use that three-foot zuke you can’t believe you missed harvesting before it became Zuczilla as a sculptural doorstop. Outside, you can dramatically light the horror-show that is the squash patch with jack o’ lantern-inspired luminarias.

Carve a.....Zucchini? - More DIY How To Projects

7. Start a band.

Excuse me, Sir, but is that a zucchini pipe you’re smoking?

zucchini flute video

8. Make a shark

zucchini shark video

9. Use them as biodegradable exercise weights.

Smaller zucchinis make perfect hand weights for runners. After your workout, use a straight zucchini, as a foot massager by rolling the zuke back and forth on the floor under your sore feet.

10. Turn them into a bio-weapon.

Leave bags of surplus zucchini on your neighbor’s doorstep, in his mailbox or in her unlocked car. Bonus points if you can train their dog to bring it, like the newspaper, into the house. August 8th is National Sneak Zucchini On Your Neighbor’s Porch Day, so this form of domestic terrorism is completely within the law.

This is a guest post by Max Wong, who blogs at My Roman Apartment.

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Guest's picture

Thanks for the post. Your blossom recipes look decadent. I tried a lovely cheese pizza in Rome topped with squash blossoms and anchovy fillets. Wonderful.

Guest's picture

zucchini pasta sounds delicious i am sure it is going to be in menu tonight at home

Thursday Bram's picture

Zucchini works surprisingly well in chocolate cake recipes. Even better, cakes freeze better than zucchinis do on their own! I've made eight loaves of zucchini cake at a go before and just stuck them all in the freezer.

Guest's picture

LOVED this article! But don't forget that you can freeze zukes also. Just grate and put in a freezer bag for use when the garden is not giving so many fresh ones!

Guest's picture

i wish we had a bounty. we got all of 4 zukes and 3 yellow squash this year, thanks to a HORRIBLE growing season. :(

Guest's picture

No zucchinis here either due to the weather, and what did grow to the size of a fingerling is rotting on the vine.
And here I was so looking forward to making zucchini pickles and boats...oh well, maybe next year

Guest's picture

My favorite way of preparing zucchini in the summer (as there's no baking involved) is to make mock crab cakes, which are delicious. The recipe allow you to make full use of your bounty, as well as being easy. Links to recipe, video, and pics can be found at...

A great way to turn the "curse" of the zucchini into a blessing of abundance!

Maggie Wells's picture

Is the zucchini itself! We julienne the zucchini (raw) till we have a heaping mound of "spaghetti" then we pour a dollop of fresh pesto on top of it. That's our raw zuchhini pesto pasta!

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture
Drunken Master

I don't even grow zucchini, but now I want to just so I can use the ideas in this column!

Guest's picture

fantastic article. It had me rolling! I have made hundreds of jars of zuchini relish, made nice fried zuchini, used them as a substitute for steaks or burgers on the grill, donated them, foisted them on unsuspecting people in the middle of the night, and I only planted 3 hills. also, don't forget to make zuchini mock pineapple (great for cakes, breads, pie etc.--tastes just like the real thing).

On a similar note, the homegardener should not plant more than 2 hills of cushaw squash....


Guest's picture

I used to try planting zucchini, but years of initially vibrant vines that end up shriveling into a powdery mildew mass hardened my heart. I tried planting in different areas of the garden, I tried watering at different times of day, but nothing worked.

So what do I do to satisfy my zucchini needs?

My friend Nadine, who lives out in the country plants an extra vine just for me.

It's sad but true, as well as a true testament to the power of friendship.

So please people, give your extra zucchini to the gardening-challenged folks in your life. It's a good deed.

Sniff . . . .


Guest's picture

We're probably about to go one batch of zucchini bread too far, but it also goes in our favorite summer salad. This involves a cajun seasoned grilled chicken breast, a variety of summer produce, and toasted pecans. It was responsible for convincing a skeptical 10 year old that salad might not be so bad. It won't make a huge dent in a volume surplus, but every little bit helps.

Guest's picture

Good stuff, good ideas. This reminds me of the very funny poem by Marge Piercy, "Attack of the Zucchini People." Your wit and wisdom -- and expertise -- shine through. Thanks for a good read!

Guest's picture
Susan Dillon

A great Max Wong article as per usual. Please publish more articles by her here. Loved it! Super funny and cool! Susan

Guest's picture

As a cook who likes to avoid processed foods, flours, and sugars, I use zucchini A LOT. Shredded, it can go into almost any baking product and it even replaces potatoes in hashes. When I have a truckload left over, I usually shred it, squeeze out the water, and freeze it. That way, during the off season, it's easy to defrost and throw into soups, stir-fries, or make greek zucchini patties. Yum yummy.

Guest's picture

Just make a cake, sweet and nice and you do not know you are eating Zucchini

Guest's picture

Right now, I can't wait for my next zucchini glut, since it is early spring in NZ. I've just planted some seeds indoors.

I always end up with too many, even though I've got a small garden and I'm entirely capable of eating 2 a day for a couple of months on my own. I also enyoy palming them off on neighbours and workmates, and last summer had a "zucchini for bread" deal going with someone who baked bread (something I don't make myself). Fortunately, they aren't quite so easy to grow where I live, and most people don't have too many. Just me. :-)

It's a running joke that I'm on the "zucchini diet" during summer and autumn when I'm eating 2 a day. It's probably another thing you could try to get rid of excess zucchini - tell people that it's the central ingredient in some celebrity fad diet. I do actually always lose weight in the zucchini season, largely because I'm too full of zucchini to eat anything else. See - it works!

Guest's picture

Very useful and funny. Of course I'm biased about the first recipe as a Rome resident.

More Ms. Wong please.

Guest's picture

I also use zucchini in enchiladas and hash browns. Maybe Waffle House should add it as a topping.

Thanks for the ideas.