“We didn’t harvest much squash or zucchini from our garden this year,” said no one ever.
From mid-summer to the end of the growing season, gardeners and farmers are plagued with a nagging problem: squash overload!
You’ve taken baskets of the veggies to every friend within a 30-mile radius, you faithfully observed National Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighor’s Porch Day on August 8, but you still have more yellow squash and zucchini than your family can eat.
And we know that you’re tired of hearing complaints about the same three squash recipes you’ve been rotating this summer.
It’s time to branch out a bit and get a new perspective on your bounty. If you’ve got too much squash and zucchini on hand, check out these ideas to use up the bumper crop before your family stages a coup and forbids you to serve it ever again.
1. Freeze It
Freezing yellow squash and zucchini takes a little time, but it’s worth the effort when craving garden goodness while the snow’s on the ground.
Plus, socking away frozen squash gets it off the plates and palettes of your family members now. Trust us; they’ll be happy to see it again in the middle of winter.
Do your future self a favor and freeze some squash today.
2. Pickle It
The idea of pickling is related to the reasoning behind freezing squash. Do something with your squash now and save it for later.
You can make a delicious, tangy pickle relish with the squash. Spices and vinegar transform the veggie into a crunchy, tasty condiment that goes well as a garnish for burgers, rice, beans, or almost any dish really.
Also? Jars of homemade squash relish make yummy gifts at the holidays.
3. Make Dessert
Cookies, cake, brownies — yep! You can make all of them from zucchini. Bonus points: no one is the wiser unless you tell them what they’re eating.
4. Turn It Into Bread
The same goes for zucchini bread and muffins. Sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate chips, and other baking staples all camouflage whatever “vegetable earthiness” your zucchini may bring to the bread.
Here’s another idea for holiday gifts: freeze bread loaves to hand out later.
5. Add It to a Stir-Fry
Slice thin rounds of yellow squash or zucchini and throw them into a skillet with protein and other veggies. Squash and zucchini add color, flavor, and texture to your favorite stir-fry.
Add a little olive oil, fresh garlic, and salt and pepper, and voila! You’ve got a delicious filling meal in a few minutes.
6. Roast It
Have you ever roasted vegetables? Preparing squash this way is easy, tasty, and helps break up your veggie routine.
Cut yellow squash and zucchini into small bite-size pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them into a thin layer on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until browned.
Garnish with your favorite fresh herbs and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
7. Grill It
The smoke and char of grill cooking give a unique dimension of flavor to squash and zucchini. Add slices to kebabs of your favorite protein and veggies. Whole squash and zucchini are also great when sliced lengthwise in thin slabs and grilled straight on the grates.
You can also create steamed veggie packets for the grill. Pile bite-size pieces of squash and zucchini on a large square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with your favorite salad dressing, dot with butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll the edges of the foil square together to make a packet. Place the packet on the grill grates alongside the other items you’re cooking.
Carefully open the packets because they will be hot and steamy with yummy, squashy goodness!
8. Fry It
I remember the overwhelming disappointment I felt as a kid at school when I bit into what I thought was a tater tot only to discover the cafeteria manager had served us fried veggie tots instead!
Thankfully, veggie tots and their cousins, i.e., squash and zucchini fritters, have come a long way since my middle school days. Creating delicious fritters, patties, tots, and the like is yet another way to change up your squash routine. You may even get lucky and convert a few hold-outs who are reluctant to eat anything that isn’t a fast-food chicken nugget.
Get creative with seasonings to mix into the fritters, and serve some delicious savory, creamy, or spicy dipping sauces on the side.
For a healthier version, oven-bake or air-fry the fritters, which give the same crispiness and depth of flavor without the heaviness of deep- or pan-frying.
9. Make a Soup With It
When you think of making soup with squash, you probably first picture butternut squash soup (which is delicious). But did you realize that summer squash can also make tasty and satisfying soups, too?
Of course, you can add slices of yellow squash and zucchini to broth-based soups. They make a great complement to other vegetables and proteins.
But try your hand at creating thick soups with your summer bounty. Blending cooked yellow squash with vegetable broth, Yukon gold potatoes, Greek yogurt, and your favorite spices will make a tangy, creamy soup. Cooked zucchini blended with chicken broth, cooked onions, garlic, and fresh basil make a bright green, hearty, and savory bowl of soup.
10. Mix It Into a Casserole
In my opinion, a yellow squash casserole makes a perfect complement to almost any meal. One of my favorite dishes is my mother’s squash casserole. Bits of yellow squash are mixed with onion into a hot and buttery bake with just the right balance of salt and pepper. My mom always worked bacon into her recipe, adding another flavor dimension.
Squash casserole is a way to satisfy a hungry crowd.
11. Cut It Into Zoodles
Ditch the high-carb count of pasta and use a spiralizer to shred your squash into “zoodles.” Ladled with marinara or bolognese sauce and sprinkled with parmesan, zoodles offer a nutritious, slightly crunchy substitute for spaghetti. You can even create lasagna using thin slices cut lengthwise between layers of sauce, meat, and cheese.
12. Toss It Into a Salad
Eating summer squash and zucchini raw is not my go-to preparation method for yellow and green veggies. But it’s perfectly safe and healthy to eat them uncooked.
They’re crunchy and mild in flavor, so they stand up well to seasonings, herbs, oils and vinegar, and other condiments. You can even marinate them for several hours before adding them to your favorite salad greens.
13. Donate It
If you’ve tried all of our ideas and you still have more yellow squash and zucchini than you can possibly prepare, we have one final suggestion.
Take all your extra veggies to a local food pantry that accepts fresh produce. You can find eligible donation locations in your area at AmpleHarvest.org.
Make sure you clean your produce well and the squash is not overripe. Review the other guidelines at Ample Harvest and check with the food pantry to see if they have other specifications for donations.
The Health Benefits of Eating Squash
We know you have summer squash and zucchini coming out of your ears! But please don’t let your overwhelm tempt you to chuck the extras. High in vitamins A, B6, and C, folate, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, and antioxidants, these veggies provide many health benefits.
Finding more ways to use too much squash and zucchini is a worthwhile endeavor — for your family, friends, neighbors, and community.
Summary of 13 Ways to Make Great Use of a Huge Harvest
|Number||Ways to Use Squash|
|4||Turn It Into Bread|
|5||Add It to a Stir-fry|
|9||Make a Soup With It|
|10||Mix It Into a Casserole|
|11||Cut It Into Zoodles|
|12||Toss It Into a Salad|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © CherylCasey/ via Getty Images
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