How to Cook Large Zucchini

Fresh zucchini at a farmer's market
A zucchini should have glossy skin and a firm texture. (Image: ZCPerson/iStock/Getty Images)

Zucchini vines are prolific producers, and an overabundance can result in zucchinis left on the vine, growing bigger every day. A fruit that cooks up as a vegetable, zucchini does not necessarily improve with size. Use large zucchinis for cooking, rather than fresh in salads or slaw; its flesh can be bitter when eaten raw. To make the most of your girthy zucchini, turn its large size to your advantage; use it as an edible container or feature it in a saute.

Saute

Step 1

Rinse the zucchinis under cold water and dry them off with a paper towel. Dice the zucchini, or shred them with a grater. Put the zucchini in a colander. Salt the zucchini liberally and set the colander aside for 15 minutes.

Step 2

Squeeze out the zucchini with your hands to rid it of the moisture that it exuded. Place the zucchini on a paper towel and set aside.

Step 3

Drizzle some olive oil onto a saute pan, set the pan onto the stovetop and turn on the burner to medium. Add the zucchini to the pan. Saute the zucchini briefly and add chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano or basil. Add pepper, but do not add any more salt. Cook the zucchini for about 10 minutes; remove from the heat when it is tender, but still retains its shape.

Step 4

Pile the zucchini in a bowl, sprinkle on some grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a tomato-basil sauce.

Bake

Step 1

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Place the zucchini in the microwave on a paper towel and heat on high for 30 seconds. Remove the zucchini from the microwave and scoop out most of the insides of each half, using a spoon. Microwaving makes the zucchini more pliable and less likely to break apart when you hollow them out.

Step 2

Salt the zucchini flesh and let it drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Squeeze out any moisture exuded by the flesh, and set aside on a paper towel.

Step 3

Chop the mushrooms and the onions very fine. Drizzle some olive oil in the saute pan and place it over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the mushroom and onions to the pan. Sprinkle on some salt and cook the mixture until the mushrooms brown and the onions turn translucent.

Step 4

Turn off the heat and add dried spices, such as oregano or thyme, to taste, and mild or pungent cheese, such as fontina or feta, cut into cubes. Add the zucchini flesh and cooked lentils or rice.

Step 5

Spoon the mixture into the hollowed-out zucchini and place the prepared zucchini halves onto a baking pan. Bake the zucchini for 35 minutes, or until the filling is brown and the zucchini are tender. Serve as a main course or as a side dish.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towel

  • Kitchen knife

  • Grater

  • Colander

  • Salt

  • Olive oil

  • Saute pan

  • Fresh herbs to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Parmesan cheese

  • Sauce, such as marinara or tomato-basil

  • Spoon

  • Mushrooms

  • Onions

  • Dried herbs

  • Mild or pungent cheese

  • Cooked lentils or cooked rice

  • Baking pan

Tip

Whenever you use the flesh of large zucchini, take a few extra minutes to salt and drain it. The salt draws out moisture from the zucchini and, along with it, the bitterness sometimes associated with mature fruits.

Substitute any cooked whole grain for the lentils or rice in stuffed zucchini.

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