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.
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.
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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.