Seasonal Pantry: Favorite zucchini dishes perfect for summer time

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It is that time of year again, a time when turning your back on zucchini can be dangerous. A small zucchini turns into a monster bat-sized baton in record time or so it seems if you have a garden. It can be hard to keep up with even a single plant.

Zucchini is typically the first of summer’s fruit to be ready for harvest. This year, as we wait for heirloom tomatoes to ripen, they are already enormous and abundant. It is time to revisit favorite zucchini recipes.

Many home cooks, when faced with too many zukes, lean towards recipes that mask them rather than highlight them. Zucchini muffins, zucchini bread, zucchini bake, zucchini- chocolate cake and even zucchini- apple pie are offered as ways to use a surplus of summer squash.

I think there are best ways to appreciate it and believe it is at its best in a savory, not a sweet, contest. Zucchini tarts, galettes, quiche, gratin and frittatas are all easy and delicious.

Zucchini is an increasingly popular pizza topping, too, though it is most often lost in the tomato sauce on most versions. I prefer a pizza topped with olive oil, minced garlic, and grated cheese, with sliced avocado added after it is cooked. You can make a similar sandwich that is equally delicious.

Chilled zucchini soup is rich and refreshing but won’t bust anyone’s diet. Zucchini salsa is delicious on creamy polenta or grits, tossed with a small pasta such as ditalini and spooned over quesadillas, steamed rice or grilled zucchini.

If you are gluten intolerant, you can cut it into noodles for Zucchini Carbonara, Zucchini Marinara or even Zucchini Bolognese.

There are links to recipes from the Seasonal Pantry archives at “Eat This Now” at To find them, simply enter “zucchini” in the search bar.

If, after trying all my suggestions and your own favorites, you still find yourself with too many zukes, just wait until August 8, “Sneak Some Zucchini On Your Neighbor’s Porch” night.

Today’s recipes are updated versions of several of my favorite ways to enjoy zucchini.

The simplicity of this dish belies its deliciousness; it is one of the best ways to enjoy zucchini. It’s not a good way to prepare large zucchini — larger than about 1 1/2 inches in diameter — unless it is Romanesco variety, as other types will fall apart. With Romanesco, the zucchini will hold its shape no matter its size.

Black Pepper Zucchini

Makes 3 to 4 servings

3 tablespoons butter

3-4 small zucchini, trimmed and cut in 1/4-inch rounds

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

Put the butter in a medium sauté pan set over medium high heat and when it is melted add the zucchini. Sauté, tossing or turning frequently, until the squash is just tender but not at all mushy, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and several very generous turns of black pepper.

Remove from the heat and enjoy right away.


If you love zucchini, it is worth it to invest in a mandoline. You don’t need a professional one, though; the plastic ones designed for home kitchens are durable, easy to use and inexpensive. They allow you to cut zucchini and similarly shaped vegetables into thin noodles and coins of even thickness. I’ve used the same one for about 25 years.

Spaghettini with Zucchini Noodles, Wax Beans & Basil

Makes 4 to 6 servings

4-6 ounces yellow wax beans

— Kosher salt

4 tablespoons butter

2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

8 ounces dried spaghettini

5 thin zucchini, about 6 to 8 inches long, ends trimmed

— Zest of 1 lemon

4 ounces (1 cup) freshly grated Vella dry jack, Estero Gold, St. George or similar cheese

— Black pepper in a mill

10-12 basil leaves, cut in very thin julienne

Cut the stem ends off the beans. Set a colander or strainer in the sink.

Fill a large pot two-thirds full with water, season with a generous 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the beans and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. Use a wide slotted spoon to transfer the beans to the colander to drain.

Put the butter and garlic into a wide shallow bowl and put the drained beans on top of them; cover with a tea towel.

Stir the spaghettini into the boiling water and cook according to package directions until just done, about 9 to 10 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, use a mandoline fitted with its narrowest blade to cut the zucchini into lengthwise julienne. Turn the zucchini as you cut so that you julienne all the skin; if you need to discard the centers, which will likely be too soft to cut, don’t worry. The ribbons should be about the same width as the cooked spaghetti. Use your fingers to separate and fluff the strands of zucchini.

One minute before the pasta is cooked stir the zucchini ribbons into the water with the pasta. Cook for 1 minute, drain and transfer to the bowl with the beans, butter and garlic. Add the lemon zest and the cheese and use two fork to gently turn the ingredients to distribute them evenly.

Correct for salt, season with several turns of black pepper, scatter the basil on top and enjoy right away.


If you shop at the Sebastopol Farmers Market, you have likely seen the beautiful salad mixes of EarthWorker Farm. When Mark Twang or another of the spicy mixtures is available, I like to omit the basil in this dish and top each portion instead with a handful of this colorful and flavorful mix.

For a gluten-free dish, omit the spaghettini and use 8 to 10 small zucchini.


These tacos are absolutely delicious and very easy to make. It’s a perfect meal on a hot summer night, especially with freshly made guacamole or a tomato-avocado salad alongside.

Zucchini-Chorizo Tacos

Makes 2 to 4 servings

2-3 Spanish-style fresh chorizo, preferably Franco Dunn’s One World or Sonoma County Meat Co.

3 small zucchini of choice, trimmed and cut into small dice

2 tablespoons olive oil, as needed

3 garlic cloves, minced

— Black pepper in a mill

— Lime or lemon wedges

— Kosher salt, as needed

8 hand-made style corn tortillas, hot but not at all crisp

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

4-5 radishes, quartered or thinly sliced

— Tapatio, Cholula or other Mexican hot sauce of choice

Set a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, add the chorizo and cook, rolling the sausages now and then, until firm. Transfer to a clean work surface.

Return the pan to medium heat and, if it seems a bit dry, add the olive oil. Add the zucchini and cook for about 3 minutes, turning it now and then, until it is lightly browned and tender but not mushy. Working quickly, cut the chorizo into small dice and add to the zucchini, along with the garlic. Toss, season very generously with black pepper and add the juice of 1 lemon or lime wedge.

Remove from the heat, taste and correct for salt.

Set the hot tortillas onto individual plates, place one on top of another, and divide the chorizo-zucchini mixture among them. Sprinkle with cilantro, garnish with lemon or lime wedges and radishes and enjoy right away, with bottled hot sauce alongside.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at

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