There are few ingredients as synonymous with summer abundance than zucchini. As the season progresses, supermarkets, farm stands and home gardens burst with this summer squash, challenging even the most proficient home cooks to keep thinking of creative ways to use it all up. So to help keep things fresh, here are 11 of New York Times Cooking readers favorite recipes that use this seasonal workhorse.
One way to ensure a recipe receives thousands of five-star reviews? Require only one pot and offer an easy yet clever method for cooking pasta. Alexa Weibel does both here, cooking shell pasta and zucchini cubes in a shallow broth of vegetable stock, mascarpone and garlic, which reduces and emulsifies into a satiny sauce.
Recipe: One-Pot Zucchini-Basil Pasta
Skewered and grilled zucchini is one of summer’s simple pleasures. While great on its own, it’s even better alongside scallions and served with lightly caramelized salmon sticky with a tare, or basting sauce. Kay Chun lacquers both the fish and the vegetable skewers with the garlicky soy and sugar sauce so that every bite packs maximum sweet and salty flavor.
The recipe for these Turkish fritters, which Elaine Louie adapted from the chef Aytekin Yar back in 2009, is among the most highly rated zucchini dishes in the New York Times Cooking database — and for good reason: They’re cheesy with feta, fresh with grated summer squash, scallions and fresh dill, and amply crisp all over.
Recipe: Zucchini Pancakes
One of the many reasons to love this lightly sweet quick bread recipe from Alison Roman is that it yields two loaves, so you can bake one for now and one for the freezer. Or maybe one for breakfast as is, one for dessert with a handful of chocolate chips sprinkled in the batter? The choice is yours.
Recipe: Classic Zucchini Bread
Sarah Jampel pairs hearty garden and pantry staples in this satisfying dinner salad that’s best enjoyed al fresco. Readers can’t help but sing its praise: “One of the best recipes I’ve made recently,” one reader wrote. “Very easy and much more interesting than its ingredients would suggest.”
One key to supple poultry-based meatballs (or even burgers) is incorporating a high-moisture-content vegetable, like zucchini, into the meat. Here, Ali Slagle grates zucchini and shallot before combining them with panko, ground chicken, herbs and spices. The results are juicy enough to warrant more than 4,500 reviews.
The ultimate summer squash side dish might just be the simplest one. Pierre Franey adorns lightly sautéed zucchini slices with bread crumbs, butter, shallots and parsley for five-star-worthy results. “One of my taste testers said this made prolific garden zucchini ‘sexy,’” one reader wrote, and we couldn’t agree more.
Recipe: Zucchini With Shallots
Grilled, grated, sautéed and … caramelized? What can’t zucchini do? Two pounds of zucchini, cooked down slowly until it’s one cup of savory-sweet jam, yield a complex, summery pasta sauce that gives tomatoes a much-deserved break. Ali Slagle recommends you caramelize zucchini for other applications as well, including, but not limited to, sandwich spreads and pizza bases.
Recipe: Caramelized Zucchini Pasta
For a summer cookout feel without the grill, zucchini teams up with dark meat chicken pieces and basil in this weeknight-friendly recipe from Melissa Clark. Skipping the grill in favor of a single dish and the oven guarantees that the meat and squash stay tender, and any juices remain in the pan for sopping up with bread.
Somewhere between lasagna and eggplant Parmesan lies this simple summery casserole from Martha Rose Shulman, the ideal place for this season’s garden bounties. Layers of thin zucchini planks, perfectly seasoned homemade tomato sauce (or an exceptional jarred sauce if you’re pressed for time) and grated Parmesan are the building blocks of this five-star recipe.
Recipe: Zucchini Parmesan
Thinly sliced zucchini, softened through and browned at the edges, soaks up the bright, bold flavors of frizzled shallots, capers and lemon in this light and fresh pasta from Alison Roman. “This was the perfect zingy, attention-grabbing warm pasta salad to eat with grilled salmon (outside, with friends),” one reader wrote.