Zucchini is a familiar summer squash at farmers markets and in the produce sections of grocery stores. Maybe you think it’s just a boring vegetable. But today is National Zucchini Day, which means it’s time to really let the vegetable shine (not to mention it’s a fantastic source of vitamins A and C, fiber, magnesium, folate, and potassium).
Check out these three recipes (including one developed by yours truly!) that truly make zucchini the star of the dish. They’re easy and are loaded with flavor. You’ll never forget to mark National Zucchini Day on your calendar again!
The Crunchy Radish’s Zucchini Lasagna
The Crunchy Radish’s zucchini lasagna is a lighter, fresher, good-for-you take on an all-time Sunday classic. We removed noodles altogether and replaced them with thin strips of zucchini. Jarred sauce? I don’t think so. We created a flavorful and robust spicy tomato sauce laced with black olives and chili flakes. For an added punch of complexity, we added lemon zest and lemon juice to fresh ricotta and threw in a layer of nutrient-dense kale just to make sure that you get your filling of greens. No doubt about it, this is not a meal you make on a weeknight, but if made on a lazy Sunday afternoon, you can happily enjoy it for a few dinners throughout your busy week ahead.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 5 large zucchini, ends trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise ¼-inch thick
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ cup black olives, thinly sliced
- 2 24-oz jars organic crushed tomatoes
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1-½ cups fresh ricotta cheese
- ½ tablespoon organic lemon zest
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 bunch cleaned basil leaves
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If you have a cast iron grill pan, warm over medium-high heat.
- Toss zucchini slices in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a good grind of pepper. Arrange zucchini on grill pan and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes a side. You will likely need to do at least two batches. If you do not have a grill pan, lay zucchini slices on racks in your oven and cook for 10 minutes. Place cooked zucchini on a plate, reserving for later use. If watery, use a cloth or paper towel to pat dry. You want the zucchini noodles as dry as possible.
- For the sauce, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chili flakes, onion, and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. Add oregano, black olives, and tomatoes, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
- While the sauce cooks, lightly sauté kale in a pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Squeeze any excess water from the kale and set aside.
- Place fresh ricotta in a bowl and stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and a little pepper.
- Using a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, assemble the lasagna. Spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom, add a layer of zucchini, gently spread some lemon ricotta, add some torn basil leaves, half the kale, and another layer of tomato sauce. Repeat 2 to 3 times, topping the final layer with shredded mozzarella. Reserve some torn basil for serving.
- Bake in the oven for 40 minutes and enjoy.
Running on Veggies’ Zucchini Pasta
Whenever holidays roll around, I find my diet doesn’t change that much. We go back to basics, eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, clean carbs (sweet potato/starchy vegetables), and protein! One dish that has become a favorite amongst my family all year round, and especially on holidays, is zucchini pasta. It’s not that it’s trying to be pasta and it’s just a weak form of it, it’s a great dish that’s bursting with flavor! I used my spiralizer to get the zucchini into a pasta shape.
- 8 green zucchini
- 2 onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 eggplant
- 1 red bell pepper
- 5 cups of assorted mushrooms
- ½-¾ cup tomato sauce (no sugar added)
- Spiralize zucchini and put aside for later.
- Spray a large pan with nonstick spray and sauté onion and garlic until translucent (about 10 minutes).
- Dice up eggplant and chop the pepper. Add them to the pan and let cook for 10 minutes. Then add mushrooms. All of this should cook an additional 15 minutes until vegetables are cooked through.
- Add your tomato sauce and mix in, making sure to cover all the vegetables. Add zucchini at the very end, and let cook for around 5 minutes. You want to leave a good texture and color, so don’t cook it too long!
Emily Sundberg’s Quinoa-Crust Pizza with Zucchini
Ever since I was young, my grandma always used fresh herbs, like fresh mint in iced tea, or fresh basil in salads and sauces. I wanted to try using them in pizza. I had a really good quality gluten-free pizza mix in my cabinet, but that wasn’t vegan and I didn’t want to risk using a flax egg and potentially wasting the entire mix. But then I discovered quinoa can be made into a pizza crust. And I had a ton of organic tomatoes and zucchini. And fresh herbs. So pizza it was!
Unfortunately this recipe calls for a few hours of prep, because you need to soak the quinoa overnight. But don’t worry, it is so worth the wait.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained, and then soaked overnight
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup of water
- A pinch of salt
- Handful of fresh oregano and basil (I like these flavors on and in my crust. This is optional, though, if you like a more neutral crust.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cover an 8-inch baking cake pan with olive oil.
- Blend or pulse all other ingredients together on high for several minutes until a uniform mixture is made. Pour into the oiled cake pan and bake for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, carefully flip over and bake for another 7 minutes.
- 1-½ cups organic cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 small organic zucchini, sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh herbs! (I used basil, rosemary, and oregano)
- Heat oil on frying pan until hot.
- Add in the yellow onion and turn heat down to low, and let the onion slooooowwly cook down and caramelize without burning.
- Continuously add more water (or oil, though I purposely tried to limit the oil I used when I made this) and work the onions down.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the tomatoes and let it all cook together until a sauce has formed.
- Add in the zucchini, cover, and cook for about 10 more minutes.
Top the pizza with the vegetable mixture, chop up herbs, and throw it all on top. Eat right away, or top the crust and stick it back in the hot oven for another 5 minutes to heat up.
Read This Next: Step Up Your French Fries Game With Zucchini And Lemon Mayo