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Loving Leftovers: Too Much Zucchini

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Have too much zucchini left over? Here are some great ideas for how to use it.

Have too much zucchini left over? Here are some great ideas for how to use it.

A Horror Story

A feeling of dread hung over the town, as thick and heavy as the humid summer air. The western sky shimmered with the heat, a soundless haze bending and distorting the cloudless sky. The sun, a brilliant ball of flame, sank below the horizon. Colors softened as dusk replaced daylight.

The air in the lonely house was still and lifeless. The doors were locked, windows shut tightly, and the window coverings were drawn.


A young woman cowered on the living room rug, not daring to make a sound. She could hear the sound of dry grass crunching under heavy plodding footsteps, footsteps slowly, insidiously approaching the house.

A shadowed form approached the front door, the porch creaking under its weight. She held her breath, praying to God, to angels, to any higher being that her hiding place would not be discovered. The outline of the hulking figure appeared on the window shade. It stood motionless, listening for sounds of life within the house.

She waited for what seemed an eternity and then heard muffled footsteps as the intruder left the porch and retreated back into the darkness. Cautiously, she lifted one corner of the shade to look out onto the porch. The stranger was indeed gone, but a package had been left on the topmost step. What she had feared the most was waiting for her on the other side of the door, just inches away . . .

. . . a sack of zucchini.

It Happens Again and Again

In late summer, this horrific story is repeated countless times as one zucchini seed germinates and spawns countless dark green progeny. What will we do?

This is the fourth in a series on the topic of leftovers. On the 1st day of each month, we look for creative, imaginative ways to use that food you just have too much of but can't bear to let go to waste.

Today, we'll talk about zucchini.

The trouble is, you cannot grow just one zucchini. Minutes after you plant a single seed, hundreds of zucchini will barge out of the ground and sprawl around the garden, menacing the other vegetables. At night, you will be able to hear the ground quake as more and more zucchinis erupt.

— Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and columnist

Leftover Zucchini Recipes

There will be no zucchini bread or muffins. At last count, the internet has 49 million recipes for those. No chocolate cake. No zucchini boats stuffed with rice and tomato sauce. No zoodles. So, with those ground rules firmly established, let's get started.

Recipes in This Article

  • Dill "Pickles"
  • Cornbread
  • "Pick-Your-Flavor" Jam
  • "Meatballs"
  • Meatloaf
  • Pesto
  • Parmesan-Zucchini Tots
Tangy, crunchy pickles are a great snack.

Tangy, crunchy pickles are a great snack.

Dill "Pickles"

Salt and dill, coriander, and garlic cloves flavor the tangy, vinegary brine. The slices in the jar are crisp and crunchy. They look like cucumbers, but they aren't; they're zucchini. Layer them on your hamburger, dice and stir them into your favorite potato salad, or enjoy them all by themselves. But make them with this recipe by Kevin West of Epicurious. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Zucchini cornbread is a delicious take on a classic recipe.

Zucchini cornbread is a delicious take on a classic recipe.


Grated zucchini makes this corn loaf moist and tender. Onion, garlic, chili flakes, and jalapenos provide a burst of flavor. "FoodBlogAndTheDog" provides the recipes in both grams and cups. Note that the conversion for 180°C is 355°F.

Get your veggies in by sneaking some zucchini into jam!

Get your veggies in by sneaking some zucchini into jam!

"Pick-Your-Flavor" Jam

I used to make this jam years ago, but then, in a move, I lost the recipe. I'm so glad that I was able to find it again on the internet. The secret ingredient (besides zucchini, which no one will ever suspect) is Jello. Yes, Jello. It thickens the jam and provides the fruit flavor. Nicole uses raspberry flavor, but my family's favorite is apricot. You can get your kids to eat zucchini.

These meat-free zucchini are delicious!

These meat-free zucchini are delicious!


There are lots of vegetarian "meatball" recipes in the world. Some of them are made with zucchini, but this is the only one I have found that states a specific amount of zucchini. The others state, "3 medium zucchini." Precisely what is the size of a medium zucchini? Compared with what?

SkinnyTaste does it right. My vegetarian daughter gives these 5 stars.

This zucchini meatloaf is surprisingly flavorful.

This zucchini meatloaf is surprisingly flavorful.


Here's another way to get your kids to eat their veggies. KitchenNostalgia provides this moist, flavorful meatloaf. By the way, if you really want to covertly introduce zucchini into the meal, remove the green skin before grating (it's a clear giveaway that something suspicious lurks within).

I would also recommend squeezing the zucchini to remove some excess water before mixing it with the other ingredients. If you want leftovers, double the recipe. Baking time will need to be increased from about 50 minutes to one hour. Check the internal temperature of your loaf before serving (it should be 165°F).

Zucchini pesto

Zucchini pesto


This recipe is from MindYourFeed, in the Netherlands. Here is a link to the original. I have also transcribed the recipe (below) so that you can have an English translation.

For 1 jar of pesto


  • 150 grams (5 ounces) zucchini
  • 50 grams (1.75 ounces) arugula
  • 25 grams (1 ounce) basil
  • 50 grams (1/2 cup) walnuts
  • 50 grams (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • pepper


Wash the zucchini and rough chop. Remove the leaves of basil from the stems. Clean the garlic.

Put the zucchini, arugula, basil, walnuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese in the bowl of the food processor. Pour in the olive oil.

Process until smooth. Season to taste with ground black pepper.

Zucchini tots

Zucchini tots

Parmesan-Zucchini Tots

Tater tots are an American frozen potato treat invented and patented by the Ore-Ida division of the H. J. Heinz Company. These tasty little morsels were created with equal portions of creativity and frugality. In 1953 the original founders of the Ore-Ida company were trying to figure out what to do with leftover slivers of cut potatoes. They chopped and minced those uncooked slivers, mixed in some flour, salt, and seasonings, and then pushed the mixture through an extruder.

A sudden surge of carb-consciousness (or shunning) has prompted the creation of homemade "tots" using sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, and even carrots. All wonderful ideas, but when the problem is that too many zucchinis threaten your sanity, give this recipe a try.

© 2018 Linda Lum