Go beyond bread with zucchini

Every time I walk through the produce department for a store tour, I encourage shoppers to ask questions about the different fruits and vegetables: How do you know if a mango is ripe? How long can you store apples in the refrigerator? What can you do with zucchini?

When I ask customers what they do with zucchini, baking it in bread is the top response. It’s true, zucchini works great in baking because of its high moisture content and mild flavor. But trust me, there’s a lot more you can do with zucchini.

This green plant is considered a summer squash and is low in calories but a good source of vitamin C. Choose firm, shiny zucchini for the best quality.

This time of year, zucchini is plentiful in home gardens as well as grocery stores. Believe it or not, there’s even a national "sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch" holiday celebrated in August to solve the gardener’s problematic overabundance of zucchini.

Instead of donating your zucchini to a neighbor, try one of these top five ways to enjoy it:


Grill it. Cut zucchini length-wise into spears, add your favorite seasonings and cook it on the grill, perpendicular to the grates so that it doesn’t fall into the flames. Or, thinly slice the zucchini and grill it in an aluminum foil pouch with olive oil, spices and other vegetables.

Eat it fresh. Use your vegetable peeler to cut zucchini ribbons and add to a salad, or chop it into sticks and dip it in hummus or low-fat veggie dip.

Bulk up your pasta dishes. Dice the zucchini and add to lasagna or homemade pasta sauce.

Eat it for breakfast. Add sautéed zucchini, onion, mushroom, spinach and tomatoes to your next omelet.

Stir-fry it. Try an Asian twist on this vegetable by including it in a stir-fry dish.

Then, if you still have zucchini left over, bake some zucchini bread. But this dietitian asks: Use whole-wheat flour.

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