Whether purchasing or picking zucchini fresh from the garden -- choose firm, slender zucchini with a bright green color and free of wrinkled skin and soft spots. For best quality, harvest zucchini when it is young and tender, about 6 to 8 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter.
As zucchini gets longer and bigger around, it becomes tougher and develops more seeds. These larger zucchini can be used to make zucchini bread or other baked items; scoop out seeds and pulp with the tip of a spoon.
Store unwashed zucchini in perforated plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator; wash zucchini just before preparation. For best quality, use zucchini within about three to four days. Wash the squash just before preparation. Zucchini makes a quick addition to meals as it doesn't have to be peeled!
Here are some quick tips for preparing zucchini:
- Slice, marinate (try balsamic vinegar) and grill a variety of vegetables including zucchini, asparagus, green onions, eggplant, and mushrooms. They're delicious!
- Cut up veggies like carrots, zucchini and potatoes. Add them to your favorite meatloaf or soup recipes.
- Take your favorite lasagna recipe and try adding different combinations of your favorite vegetables between the layers: mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, onions, or eggplant. Be creative.
- Add raw zucchini to lettuce and pasta salads.
- Cut zucchini into sticks and serve with a dip.
- Slice zucchini, sauté in oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes until tender crisp; toss into heated pasta sauce for a veggie-packed pasta topping.
This article was originally written by Alice Henneman. Reviewed and updated in 2021.