If you're trying to eat healthier, summer is the perfect time to do it! Fresh vegetables and greens are in abundance this time of year and zucchini is one of the tastiest, most versatile options in the bunch. You can enjoy raw zucchini noodles to replace all kinds of carb-heavy pasta, use it to add a refreshing touch to quick summer stir-fries, or keep it simple with grilled zucchini as a side dish.

Why Zucchini?

Zucchini is a member of the squash family, and squash comes in two types: winter and summer. While there are health benefits and similarities shared by the two, there are a few big differences. Summer squash, including green zucchini and yellow squash, are lower in calories, natural sugars, and starch, which means they have lower glycemic index (a measure of a food’s impact on blood sugar) scores. Zucchini is a popular choice while it's in season from June through late August. The nutrient-dense summer squash is high in fiber and contains zero fat. It's also loaded with minerals like potassium and manganese, and vitamins B6, A, and K. Just one medium zucchini contains over 50 percent of your daily vitamin C needs! In addition, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which can boost immunity, help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and may offer protection against diabetes and insulin resistance.

Cooking with Zucchini

Zucchini is one of the most versatile veggies out there and is used in cooking around the world. In France, it's a key ingredient in ratatouille, while in Turkey, it's used in zucchini pancakes. It's wildly popular in Italy where it's served in pasta, pizza, or simply drizzled with olive oil. In Mexican recipes, it's added to fajitas, quesadillas, or chili. There are plenty of ways to get your fill of zucchini all year long, but it's particularly wonderful at its peak during the summer months. Throw it on the grill with lemon juice, sea salt, and a touch of butter for an easy side dish, or enjoy raw slices with hummus, guacamole, or other healthy dips. You can also try shredding it to make zucchini muffins or savory pancakes. Another idea is to add it to sweet recipes like chocolate zucchini bread to add moisture and a nutritious boost to otherwise unhealthy recipes. Zucchini is often used as a gluten-free substitute for noodles of any kind, thanks to its consistency and texture. If you're cutting down carbs, zoodles are a great substitute for pasta recipes! Since zucchini has a mild flavor, we recommend adding fresh herbs and spices when possible. Try cooking with basil, oregano, parsley, sesame, or ginger. Note that zucchini can become limp and watery when overcooked, so keep an eye on it while cooking, and be sure to drain any excess water.

Healthy Zucchini Recipes

Looking for more cooking inspiration? It might sound too good to be true, but with these healthy zucchini recipes, you can have delicious, flavorful food without the guilt.

Tuscan Baked Zucchini

A healthy twist on a popular pasta dish, Tuscan Baked Zucchini calls for a delicious blend of ricotta and Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, and artichoke hearts. Who needs stuffed shells when you can have stuffed zucchini boats instead?

Tuscan Baked Zucchini

Tuscan Baked Zucchini by We Have Plenty

Zucchini Kale Lasagna 

Perfect for summer, zucchini lasagna is a lighter version of the classic Italian recipe. Layer sliced zucchini with fresh kale, ricotta cheese, and your favorite tomato sauce before baking. Not only is this Zucchini Kale Lasagna gluten-free, but you'll get a nutritious boost from the kale as well!

Zucchini Kale Lasagna

Zucchini Kale Lasagna by SweetPhi

Crisp Zucchini Medallions

Made with just six simple ingredients, this kid-friendly, easy recipe makes for a perfect side dish or snack. Similar to zucchini fries, Crisp Zucchini Medallions are thinly coated with flour and seasoning, before they’re fried in olive oil.

Crisp Zucchini Medallions

Crisp Zucchini Medallions by 30 Pounds of Apples

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Light and crunchy shredded zucchini ribbons are coated with a tangy dressing and topped with pine nuts and shredded basil to complete this Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing. A fresh summer zucchini salad is the perfect way to replace traditional pasta salad for a low-carb option.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing by Mary's Bites

Vegetable Tian

Bake layers of fresh zucchini, tomatoes, and Russet potatoes to make this surprisingly filling vegetarian main dish. It's a delicious way to highlight seasonal summer vegetables in their prime! Vegetable Tian would be ideal for sharing at a picnic or barbecue.

Vegetable Tian

Vegetable Tian by Beach House Kitchen

Zucchini Cakes

These Zucchini Cakes replicate traditional crab cakes, but are made healthy with the addition of shredded zucchini, and are baked instead of fried. Serve with warm marinara sauce for a spin on the classic summer recipe.

Zucchini "Crab" Cakes

Zucchini "Crab" Cakes by Kirbie's Cravings

Zucchini Pepper Stir-Fry

Light, refreshing, with a nice kick of heat, load up on zucchini with this seasonal twist on Chinese stir-fry. The sweet bell peppers balance the smoky poblano, while the sauce is made with low-sodium soy sauce, chili paste, and Dijon mustard. You can add in yellow squash, eggplant, or any other vegetables you'd like to make it your own. Zucchini Pepper Stir-Fry is a great choice for a quick weeknight meal!

Zucchini Pepper Stir-Fry

Zucchini Pepper Stir-Fry by Peanut Butter and Peppers

Similar to zucchini pizza, this savory tart is loaded with fresh zucchini and tomatoes tucked into a flaky whole-wheat crust. Enjoy the Tomato & Zucchini Tart with Garlic & Basil with Greek salad or fresh bread to complete the meal.

Tomato Zucchini

Tomato Zucchini Tart by A Beautiful Plate

Keep Cooking

Now that you've learned about the health benefits and versatility of zucchini, why stop here? Make the most of this seasonal squash with one of our many healthy zucchini recipes! Here are five additional dishes we love.

  Related Searches on Yummly: