If you've ever grown zucchini (or subscribed to a CSA from a farm that does), you know how prolific zucchini plants are. During their season, these hyperactive plants generate a bounty that can be a little overwhelming, frankly, if you don't have a host of good recipes at the ready—there's only so much sautéed zucchini you can eat before ruining yourself for the squash for good. Fortunately, it's a versatile vegetable, and a century or more of experimentation with all that abundance has led to a lot of creative approaches (how else to explain the invention of zucchini bread?). Whether you're facing an overflowing garden or just picked up a few squash at the market, you'll want to consult these 15 recipes, for dishes like pasta with crabmeat, Thai-style pomelo salad, grilled zucchini with cheese, and—yes—zucchini bread.
Provençal Tian (Eggplant, Zucchini, Squash, and Tomato Casserole)
In the movie Ratatouille, the hero wows a restaurant critic by inventing a beautiful variation on the rustic dish that gives the movie its name. But, in fact, what Remy serves Anton Ego is not ratatouille; it's an old-school Provençal dish called a tian. Though the name can refer to a number of layered vegetable casseroles, to re-create the dish in the movie, we use zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant in a simple tomato sauce. Precooking each vegetable in batches before assembling browns the slices, delivering more flavor.
Easy Sautéed Zucchini, Squash, and Tomatoes With Chilies and Herbs
The key to sautéing zucchini and yellow squash is to do it hard and fast—cooking it over very high heat allows you to brown it thoroughly before it has a chance to break down and get too soft. For this recipe, we finish the browned zucchini with juicy, barely cooked cherry tomatoes, shallot, and just enough serrano chili to wake up the dish (and you). A squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of fresh herbs, and you're done, in just 10 minutes total.
Grilled Summer Squash and Kasseri Cheese With Lemon and Mint
Kasseri, a tangy, semi-hard sheep's-milk cheese, isn't quite as readily grillable as halloumi or queso panela, since it's quicker to melt beyond recovery. But with a careful hand, you can get it softened and just gooey enough. We pair it here with olive oil–brushed grilled zucchini and summer squash, lemon juice, and mint.
Spicy Thai-Style Pomelo, Green Bean, and Zucchini Salad
Pomelos are large, grapefruit-like fruits with meaty flesh and a mildly bitter flavor, and they're common in Thai salads. Our take on a Thai pomelo salad combines the citrus with crisp blanched green beans, disks of crunchy raw zucchini, shallots, and fresh mint. Can't find pomelos? Any non-sweet variety of grapefruit (not pink or ruby red) will work fine.
Zucchini Rolls With Goat Cheese and Mint
For these cute little backyard appetizers, we start by grilling thin slices of zucchini until they're soft enough to roll, but not ready to fall apart. Then we fill them with goat cheese, balsamic, mint, arugula, and hot pepper, and finish by rolling them up and tying each with a single chive. It's a slightly painstaking process, but the results give you a great combination of flavors and a sensational presentation.
Roasted Zucchini-Chickpea Dip With Za'atar
Though it starts out like any old hummus, with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice, the sweetness of roasted zucchini makes this dip totally unique. The squash's high water content also helps it blend up light and silky. Like hummus, the best way to serve this is to drizzle it with plenty of good olive oil and sprinkle on some za'atar, the heady Middle Eastern spice blend.
Zucchini Latkes With Parmesan, Pine Nuts, and Basil
These tender latkes are a refreshing departure from the standard Hanukkah-season variety. The potato and onion are still there, but joined by the mild flavor of shredded zucchini. For some extra flavor that won't overpower the delicacy of the squash, we use a pesto-inspired mixture of basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese.
Zucchini Bread With Walnuts
Though there are a bajillion zucchini bread recipes out there, most follow the same basic structure, and most come out too sweet and oily. At the same time, cutting down on oil can keep the bread from developing its traditionally cake-like crumb. To make up the fat deficit, we add rich whole-milk Greek yogurt as a tenderizer. Our recipe calls for crushed walnuts for texture, but you can experiment with other mix-ins, too.
Breakfast Tacos With Charred Zucchini and Red Pepper
These breakfast tacos are utterly simple, which means that getting each component right is imperative. To get good flavor and texture from your zucchini and pepper strips, cook them over medium-high heat in a single layer without moving them, so they can develop a nice browned crust; the eggs, meanwhile, should be heated low and slow so they'll turn out creamy. And you can't skip warming up your tortillas!
Pizza With Zucchini, Feta, Lemon, and Garlic
Zucchini contains so much moisture, you can't just throw slices of it on top of a pizza and expect good results: Those slices will be watery and undercooked when the crust is finished. To mitigate the problem, we cut zucchini into matchsticks, then salt them and squeeze out as much water as we can, removing up to 30% of their weight. Feta, lemon, and garlic make strong complements to the sweet, caramelized flavor of the squash.
Zucchini Stacks in the Style of Eggplant Parmesan
These fun zucchini towers are somewhat like eggplant Parmesan minus the eggplant. They're made by breading and deep-frying slices of zucchini, then layering them with tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella, Parmesan, and pepperoni (not a traditional parm ingredient, but hey, why not?). If your zucchini is especially waterlogged, you might want to salt it before frying to draw out excess moisture.
Zucchini and Roasted Tomatoes With Pasta and Dried Olive Flavor Shake
In traditional Italian cooking, pasta is sauced minimally so that the noodles shine. But not every dish featuring pasta needs to be so laden with carbs. This one places the focus on the concentrated flavor of roasted tomatoes and sweet sautéed zucchini, with a little rigatoni or penne just to add bulk. Garlic and rosemary slow-cooked in olive oil infuse the dish, and our savory Dried Olive and Miso Shake adds a helpful dose of umami—it's a great vegan substitute for Parmesan.
Linguine With Zucchini, Tomato, and Crab
For this light one-pot pasta dish, we briefly sauté fresh zucchini and cherry tomatoes, then add them to pasta that's finished cooking in vegetable stock for extra flavor. Lump blue crabmeat adds a clean, sweet flavor.
Summer Vegetable Lasagna With Zucchini, Squash, Eggplant, and Tomato
Summer lasagnas are a tough sell conceptually—first, because lasagnas tend to be cheesy, rib-sticking fare that's more enjoyable on a cold day; and second, because the wateriness of summer vegetables is likely to make a casserole soggy. Searing off the zucchini, squash, and eggplant pieces over high heat both concentrates their flavor and drives out some moisture. To lighten the dish, we keep the dairy to a minimum and sauce the pasta simply with salted crushed tomatoes.
Parisian Gnocchi With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Corn, and Zucchini
Parisian gnocchi are made with a pâte à choux dough, making them lighter and airier than their potato-based cousins. After they're poached, you can eat them just as they are. But we love them in this summery preparation, where they're served with yellow squash, zucchini, corn, and tender roasted cherry tomatoes.