Use up your zucchini harvest
Slice it, grill it, fill it, fry it, bake it, pickle it, grate it, turn it into zoodles—mildflavored zucchini is the most versatile veggie in the garden. Desperation may have something to do with all those variations, because the more you pick, the more the plant produces. And there’s usually one that gets away, hiding under leaves and reaching an enormous size.
Zucchini is originally native to Mexico, but the squash we know today is a variety brought to the United States by Italian immigrants. The early varieties, bred in Italy in the 16th century, were round. They were dubbed zucchini from zucca, meaning pumpkin, and ini, which means small. The elongated version we know, grow and love was developed near Milan.
The squash was used here but really took off in the early 1970s with the hippies and their focus on home gardens and vegetarianism. Soon, zukes began popping up in seed collections (1973, for Burpee) and on grocery store counters. Zucchini cookbooks proliferated shortly after—because this veggie is generous to a fault!
You can slow down the production by eating the female flowers (look for a tiny zuke at the base of the blossom), stuffed with cheese or meat and sauced or fried.
What to do with all that bounty? Eat it, donate it to a food bank, feed it to backyard chickens and rabbits…and have fun with it! Maybe hold a neighborhood contest for biggest zucchini, with a potluck of zuke dishes. Use pumpkincarving tools to make designs in the outer skin for a centerpiece. Bat a wiffle ball with the giant ones, then save and dry the mature seeds for cardinals at the feeder.
When all else fails, celebrate April Fools’ Day in August: Play a joke on a friend or neighbor by sneakily placing your overgrown zukes among their plants. Or offload your extras on the doorstep of a friend or neighbor in the dark of night like the Tooth Fairy—but surprise, it’s a giant zuke. All’s fair when it comes to zucchini.
The blooms from zucchini can be fried, baked or even added to pasta and soups.