Most people are familiar with the zucchini fruit, which is often used in a variety of vegetable dishes. But the fruit is not the only edible part of the plant. In fact, the leaves and flowers of the zucchini plant are also edible.
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Zucchi leaves are dark green and have silvery speckles. As long as you pick young leaves from a large plant — bigger leaves can be bitter — you can cook the tender leaves in multiple ways.
Things You'll Need
Seasonings (pepper, salt, garlic, basil)
Add-ins (cheese, tomatoes, onions, olives)
How to Make Zucchini Leaf Spread
For a creative and tasty way to eat zucchini leaves, try making a spread. You can enjoy the zucchini leaf paste on toasted bread, crackers, tomato slices or use it as a dip for raw vegetables and pita chips.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the zucchini leaves to the water and stir.
- Boil the zucchini leaves for just about 1 minute — boiling the leaves too long gives them a mushy texture.
- Pour the pot of water into a strainer, allowing the water to drain away from the zucchini leaves. Immediately rinse under cold water for 1 minute.
- Squeeze the zucchini leaves to remove the excess water. Deposit the leaves into a bowl and add additional seasonings and ingredients as desired. You can use minced garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped onion, Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Mix the ingredients with an electric mixer until a thick paste forms. You can also add chunky ingredients, such as chopped tomato or diced black olives, for texture.
How to Sauté Zucchini Leaves
For a simple side dish that you can pair with your favorite protein or use as a base in a bowl, make sauteed zucchini leaves. You can also add cooked zucchini leaves to a fresh salad for some texture.
- Rinse the zucchini leaves under cold running water, using your fingers to clean the entire surface of the leaves. After rinsing, squeeze the leaves to eliminate excess water.
- Chop the zucchini leaves into small pieces using a paring knife. If you'll be eating the sauteed leaves as a salad or side dish, leave the pieces on the larger side. If you'll be using the sauteed leaves as a topping for another dish, chop the leaves into smaller pieces.
- Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is smoking, add the chopped zucchini leaves to the skillet and saute over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Turn the leaves once halfway through cooking.
- Remove the zucchini leaves from the skillet with tongs and immediately place them on a thick layer of paper towels to drain.
- Add other ingredients and seasonings to your zucchini leaves. The sauteed leaves can be served hot, room temperature or chilled.
If you're making a hot zucchini leaf salad, try adding fresh garlic, salt, pepper and chopped tomatoes.
If you're making a cold zucchini leaf salad, try mixing in cottage cheese, shaved Parmesan cheese or diced black olives.