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Ask Dr. Gourmet

What can I do with really large zucchini?

Almost anyone who has grown zucchini has had ones that got very big and mature - I'm talking 3 inches or more in diameter. Do you have any good recipes for these? I've used them for zucchini bread, but wonder if there are other uses; the more zucchini they use the better.

Dr. Gourmet Says...


You're right about growing zucchini. The last time I planted some it almost took over my garden. By the end of the season I did have a number of large ones.

Larger zucchini tend to be a bit on the drier side and the texture slightly coarse. When I am shopping for zukes in the market I generally don't purchase ones that are much more than about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Making zucchini bread is a great use for the larger zucchini as you say. We have a recipe on the website for a Zucchini Pizza Crust. While this isn't technically a pizza "crust" it is a wonderful departure from regular pizza dough. The larger, slightly drier zucchini are perfect for this recipe.

Cutting zucchini into ribbons makes a great substitute for pasta in dishes. Some vegetable peelers will work well for this letting you "slice" flat ribbons of zucchini much like the shape of pappardelle. Very large zukes might require using a mandoline.

Lastly, cutting the larger vegetable into smaller dice will help as well. Zucchini absorbs water quickly when it is cooking. By cutting into a dice you increase the surface area that it can absorb water and will help the texture. Adding the diced zucchini to pasta sauces works great.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet