A bountiful harvest of summer squash presents a dilemma for many home cooks. Standby recipes like zucchini bread and ratatouille are obvious ways to use up a basket full of fresh veggies, but the average person (or family) can only eat so much of those dishes before boredom sets in.
If you’re dealing with an abundant harvest of zucchini and other summer squash, don’t despair. These mild-flavored vegetables are surprisingly versatile and easy to cook. Unlike their winter cousins, summer squash don’t need to be peeled before eating and can be quickly sautéed, roasted, or even eaten raw. They’re hearty enough to take center stage in vegetarian dishes and are also good sources of vitamins B6 and A and other nutrients, making them a healthy addition to many meals. Before you bake another batch of zucchini muffins, check out these seven creative and healthy summer squash recipes.
1. 5-Ingredient Zucchini Fritters
Whether you’re looking for a savory breakfast dish, tasty appetizer, or quick vegetarian dinner, these easy, zucchini pancakes deliver. Aside from fresh squash, all you need to make these fritters are scallions, flour, eggs, and oil (plus sour cream for serving, if you want it). It’s the perfect way to use up extra zucchini and get more healthy veggies into your diet. Recipe from Just a Taste.
- 4 cups shredded or grated zucchini
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ⅓ cup sliced scallions (green and white parts)
- Vegetable oil
- Sour cream, for serving (optional)
Directions: Place the grated zucchini in a colander and set over a bowl. Sprinkle the zucchini lightly with salt and let stand for 10 minutes. Use your hands to squeeze as much water as possible from the squash. Transfer the grated zucchini to a large bowl.
Add the flour, beaten eggs, sliced scallions ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper to the bowl with the zucchini. Stir until combined.
Line a plate with paper towels. Add some vegetable oil to a large sauté pan (enough to thickly coat the bottom of the pan) and turn heat to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, scoop up 3 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture and drop into the pan, pressing lightly to form a disc. Continue to add the zucchini mixture to the pan, leaving about 2 inches between each fritter. Let cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and cook for 2 minutes more, until both sides are golden brown in color. Transfer the cooked fritters to the plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt right away. Repeat the process (adding more oil to the pan if necessary) until you’ve used up all the batter. (You should have about 14 fritters.) Serve immediately with sour cream and topped with sliced scallions.
2. Pesto Summer Squash Bruschetta with Poached Eggs
Wow your brunch guests with this healthy, 15-minute breakfast made with summer squash, homemade pesto, and poached eggs. If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, simply skip the toast or fill an omelet with the squash and pesto mixture rather than poaching the eggs. Recipe from Naturally Ella.
- 1 medium summer squash, cut into ½-inch slices
- ¼ small red onion
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pieces of toast
- 2 large eggs
- 1 to 2 ounces feta cheese
For the pesto:
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1½ cups packed basil leaves, plus extra for topping
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Directions: To make the pesto, pulse the garlic in a food processor. Add the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, and lemon juice. Pulse again until well combined. If the sauce is too thick, drizzle in some more olive oil or lemon juice to thin. Set aside.
To make the squash, turn a grill to medium-low heat. Brush the sliced squash and onion with olive oil, then sprinkle with pepper. Grill vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until charred. Remove from grill, let cool slightly, cut the squash into cubes, and dice onion. Toss the grilled squash mixture with ¼ cup of the pesto.
Poach two large eggs. Toast bread. Divide squash mixture over each piece of toast, then top with a poached egg and some crumbled feta. Sprinkle on the basil, then serve.
3. Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Skip the greasy chips in favor of these light and healthy zucchini crisps. The Parmesan-flavored chips — which can be served with sandwiches or as an appetizer — are a good source of calcium, manganese, and vitamin B6, and have 105 calories per ½ cup serving. Recipe from Food Network’s Ellie Krieger.
- Cooking spray
- 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan (¾ of an ounce)
- ¼ cup plain dry bread crumbs
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Slice the zucchini into ¼-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately.
4. Lemon Risotto with Summer Squash
The combination of in-season squash and bright lemon in this risotto dish makes for the perfect summer comfort food. For best results, use a good, flavorful stock (homemade if you have it) and make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go before you start, since the dish requires near-constant stirring once it starts to cook. This recipe is from the The New York Times and yields between 4 and 6 servings.
- 7 to 8 cups well seasoned chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup minced onion
- Salt to taste
- 1 pound summer squash (mixed varieties), diced
- 1½ cups arborio or carnaroli rice
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), green shoots removed, minced
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine, like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 to 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Directions: Put stock or broth into a saucepan, and bring it to a simmer over low heat with a ladle nearby or in the pot. Make sure that the stock or broth is well seasoned.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and a generous pinch of salt. Turn the heat up to medium high, and cook, stirring often, until the squash is translucent but not too soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the rice and the garlic, and stir until the grains separate and begin to crackle. Add the wine, and stir until it has been absorbed. Turn the heat back down to medium, and begin adding the simmering stock a couple of ladlefuls at a time. The stock should just cover the rice and should be bubbling, not too slowly but not too quickly. Cook, stirring often, until the rice is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock, and continue to cook in this fashion, stirring in more stock when the rice is almost dry. You do not have to stir constantly, but stir often.
When the rice is tender all the way through but still chewy, in about 25 minutes, it is done. Taste now and adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add another ladleful of stock to the rice. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, and Parmesan. Remove from the heat. The mixture should be creamy (add more stock if it isn’t). Serve right away in wide soup bowls or on plates, spreading the risotto in a thin layer rather than a mound.
5. Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Zucchini Noodles
Cutting carbs doesn’t have to mean giving up on pasta. Turning zucchini into long spaghetti-like noodles is a snap if you have the right tools. And when topped with a delicious sauce made from roasted red peppers and goat cheese, you won’t miss the real thing. Using a spiralizer to make the noodles is easiest, though you can also slice the zucchini into very thin strands. Recipe from Get Inspired Every Day! Serves 4.
For the roasted red pepper sauce
- 2 roasted red peppers, about 8 ounces total
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces of soft goat cheese
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the zucchini pasta
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup minced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- 2 pounds zucchini, ends cut off and spiralized (or thinly slice the zucchini into noodles)
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- Extra goat cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: If you like, roast your own red peppers for the sauce by placing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and then broiling until charred black spots appear on the skin (turning halfway through cooking). Place the peppers in a covered dish to cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove the skins. Alternatively, use jarred roasted red peppers.
Add 2 roasted peppers to a blender along with the olive oil, goat cheese, and sea salt. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
To cook the noodles, heat a 15-inch, high-sided skillet over medium-high. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until the onion is soft but not browned. Add the sea salt and the zucchini noodles to the pan. Cook, using non-stick tongs to toss, until the squash just starts to soften but before it starts to release water. Add the red pepper sauce and cook just until heated through.
Add more salt to taste, then serve with fresh-chopped parsley, ground black pepper, Parmesan cheese, and goat cheese.
6. Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches
Roasted vegetables never looked so good. Rather than trying to make up for missing meat by piling on every veggie in the garden, these hearty sandwiches are made with just grilled zucchini, tomato, and basil, then topped with mozzarella cheese. The resulting dish is filling without being heavy and is perfect for a summer lunch or light dinner. This recipe from Cooking Light serves 4.
- 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 6 slices
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 (2-ounce) ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
- 8 large fresh basil leaves
- 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Directions: Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Place zucchini in a shallow dish. Add 2 teaspoons oil and garlic; toss to coat. Arrange zucchini in grill pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear. Cut each zucchini piece in half crosswise. Return zucchini to shallow dish. Drizzle with vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
Brush bottom halves of rolls with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Top evenly with zucchini, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
Brush cut side of roll tops with remaining liquid from shallow dish, and place on sandwiches. Heat the sandwiches in pan until warm.
7. Carrot and Squash Curry Soup
When summer nights start to get cooler, prepare a batch of this carrot and squash curry soup. It’s full of healthy nutrients like vitamins A, C, and B6. It also freezes well, so you can still enjoy your summer produce long after Labor Day. Recipe from the Pioneer Woman.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole large onion, diced
- 3 whole carrots, washed and sliced thin
- 4 whole yellow squash, sliced
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon curry powder, plus more to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine (optional)
- 48 ounces chicken broth
- Heavy cream (optional)
Directions: Add the olive oil to heavy pot. Turn heat to medium. Once the oil is warm, add the garlic and onions and stir to coat. Add carrots and cook for 3 minutes, or until they start to get soft. Sprinkle in some salt.
Add the sliced squash to the pot. Stir, then cook for a few minutes until squash is soft and tender. Add salt to taste and the curry powder.
Pour in wine, if using. Let cook for about 30 seconds, until some of the liquid evaporates, then pour in chicken broth. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot, and cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour, taste and adjust seasonings. Remove soup from heat.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Alternatively, blend smooth in a blender or food processor. Return to pot and bring to a simmer to warm. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with heavy cream if desired.
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