10 Clever (and Surprising!) Zucchini Recipes
Unexpected uses for summer's favorite squash: Why not?
Zucchini is a marvelous, chameleon-like food. If you’re on a diet or trying to avoid certain foods, zucchini is kind of like a get-out-of-jail free card. You can use the super versatile ingredient to hack pretty much any recipe with grains, oils, or carbs. You’re probably familiar with the light, moist flavor it lends to zucchini bread — or the surprising way zucchini noodles satisfy in place of spaghetti — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for this nutrient-dense veggie. Read on for ten truly unexpected ways to make zucchini shine.
Baked Zucchini Chips
We all know that the best part about chips are their crunch, right? In just 20 minutes you can use this highly-rated Baked Zucchini Chips recipe to make a crispy, satisfying snack, minus the potatoes and excess saturated fat found in many traditional chips. All you need (besides the zucchini) are bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, egg whites, and some black pepper. For extra crunch, try swapping the breadcrumbs for panko as one of our readers did!
Simple Zucchini Gratin
A potato gratin is one of the most comforting foods on the planet, but it can be woefully high in calories. Not this super-simple zucchini casserole! With just four ingredients — garlic, olive oil, fresh zucchini, and parmesan cheese — the zucchini’s natural flavor is honored, while the final product is as homey and creamy as the potato version. Plus, this parmesan zucchini is super simple and quick to make. For extra color, swap half of the zucchini for yellow summer squash and alternate the yellow squash and zucchini slices in the dish.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
You can make cake from zucchini. Yep, I said it. Thanks to zucchini’s high moisture content, it’s actually a no-brainer: You can use less oil or butter when you have this healthy veggie in the batter to get delicious results. And, this relatively low-calorie version takes less than two hours to make. If you want to go for an even healthier version or need to tweak your cake to a specific diet, I recommend browsing Yummly’s treasure trove of zucchini recipes. Can't get enough of the zucchini and chocolate combo? Mix a handful of chocolate chips into your favorite zucchini bread recipe, or try zucchini brownies.
One of the bummers of adopting a low-carb diet is having to pass on main dishes that feature noodles. I have great news for you: You don’t have to give up lasagna! By using zucchini in place of the noodles, you can still have that gooey, cheesy goodness and go light on the carbs. Zucchini is actually a perfect replacement for lasagna noodles because when cooked correctly, they take on the chewiness of the noodles and absorb the flavor of the marinara and Italian seasonings. I recommend trying this spicy version, which, at 200 calories, is a lasagna-lover’s dream.
Best Ever Zucchini Crust Pizza
I don’t know why cauliflower pizza crust is getting all the attention these days; Zucchini makes an excellent pizza crust, too! And this low-carb version takes just 23 minutes to make (and only 10 minutes of prep time), crust included. That’s less time than it takes to make the more traditional kind (and quicker than take out), and it’s much healthier. With just a quarter cup of flour and plenty of yummy mozzarella cheese, this pizza goes light on the carbs while still tasting indulgent. This zucchini pizza gets the Sneakiest-Way-to-Slip-in-Your-Vegetables award.
Zucchini doesn’t have to always be a snack or side dish — it can just as easily transform into an elegant, serve-at-a-fancy-dinner-party food, too. Take this zucchini and pear soup, for example. Zucchini’s lovely neutral flavor is a perfect base for the sweet pear. Although this sophisticated dish incorporates potato, carrot, chicken stock, mint, and other basic ingredients, the four medium zucchini and two pears do the heavy flavor lifting here. Who would have thought the two could pair so well?
Can’t eat chickpeas or other legumes? Have no fear: You can still make your favorite appetizer: hummus! Zucchini comes to the rescue again as a primary ingredient in this delicious dip, which just requires tahini, salt and pepper, herbs, olive oil, and garlic to come to fruition. This substitution is a gamechanger in the healthy, low-calorie snack category. And can you find a better summer picnic food?
Imagine layering smoked salmon, sour cream and chives, or some sautéed mushrooms over latkes made with….zucchini. You’d be surprised how well this healthy vegetable works in place of potatoes in these zucchini fritters. Latkes, the delicious fried potato pancake, are here lightened up, with zucchini swapped in for the potoatoes. Add breadcrumbs, eggs, and marjoram before a quick pan fry to golden brown. Potato pancakes just got a whole lot healthier.
Blackened Zucchini Tacos
I would never have thought to make zucchini tacos, but they make perfect sense: The best tacos are juicy and full of flavor. So why not use one of the juiciest vegetables around as the main taco filling for this weeknight favorite? I love this easy recipe because it really jazzes things up with southwest ingredients like cumin, chili powder, and cayenne, plus lots of complimentary vegetables like corn and radishes for sweet crunch and zest. It also gives the zucchini added texture and flavor by instructing you to char the zucchini. But no worries if you don't have a grill — it works just as well in the broiler!
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