Mounds of Zucchini & Summer Squash | Recipes

Our zucchini and summer squash have been abundant producers.  I've come up with a few tasty ways to use it without being repetitious.  They include a mix of new and my own (hopefully improved) version of old standbys.  In all versions I use zucchini and summer squash interchangeably.

Faux Crab Cakes

4 servings While this isn't an especially new idea the only resemblance most zucchini cakes have to a crab cake is the shape. Rather than being bright and flavorful they are dense breadcrumb laden, zucchini-laced patties. Zucchini is very watery and in order to hold them together many cooks simply pile in the bread crumbs. My approach is to remove the excess water producing a much lighter result. Zucchini also is somewhat bland so a bit of flavor enhancement in the form of grated parmesan, fish sauce and other seasonings is in order.

Slice the zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Using either a food processor or box grater, grate the zucchini using the larger holes.  You will use two heaping cups of zucchini for the recipe.  These should be measured after grating but before salting and drawing out the water. 

Line a sheet pan with a couple layers of paper towels. Spread the measured squash on the towels and sprinkle with salt. Allow to rest about 30 minutes so that the salt draws out the moisture. Next squeeze as much water out as possible before placing the zucchini in a mixing bowl. 

Continue only when you are prepared to cook the cakes. immediately. Do not allow the mixture to rest or additional water will leach from the squash making the uncooked mixture watery.

Preheat the broiler.

To the zucchini in the mixing bowl add:
2T Mayonnaise
2T Parsley (Dried--if using fresh, double)
1/2c. Panko (find this in the Asian aisle)
1t. Fish Sauce (find this in the Asian aisle)
1/4 c. Grated Parmesan or other strong cheese
1 Egg
3/4c. Roasted Kale
1t. Sugar
1t. J.O. Spice (for variety use different seasoning blends)

Stir to combine and divide into four equal portions.  Place these in rounded mounds on a sheet pan and broil until nicely browned on top and hot throughout. 

Serve with Lemon-thyme mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on fresh-buns.  Worchestershire is also a nice compliment to faux crab cakes.

Lemon-thyme Mayonnaise
1/2c. Mayonnaise
1T. Fresh Thyme
1 Pkt. True Lemon (This provides lemony goodness without thinning the mayo)

Serve with sweet potato oven fries or your favorite cold picnic salad.

Chicken-filled Squash with Fresh Tomatoes

2 servings
1 Lg. Boneless/skinless Chicken Breast
1T. Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Lg. Kale Leaves, finely chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
2T. Mayonnaise
1/4c. Panko
1/4c. Grated Parmesan + extra for topping
Salt & White Pepper
1 Zucchini or Summer Squash 8"+/-

Cut the chicken into 1/4" slices then slice these into 1/4" strips. Combine the chicken with the remaining ingredients except the squash. Note, I did not list an amount for the S&P because I just sprinkle a bit in. Err on the light side, you can always add more at the table.  

Slice the zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.

Brush the cut surface with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Grill, cut side down, over direct heat to create grill marks. When the squash are ready to turn, move them off direct heat and fill with the prepared chicken mixture. Top with grated parmesan. Cover the grill and allow these to cook through. 

Depending on how hot your grill is, the cooking time will vary. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees. If your coals die out too soon you can finish them in a 350 degree oven.

Fresh Tomato Topping
For the topping dice a fresh tomato and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  Add a splash of hot sauce  to taste (we prefer green jalapeño).

Serve with a side of rice.  Forbidden black rice is shown.  It makes a nice dramatic backdrop and has a nutty flavor.  Wild rice would be equally delicious.

Zucchini Ravioli 

40 +/- Pieces  You can make your own pasta or use ready-made wonton skins for a time-friendly alternative to fresh pasta. Wonton skins are usually found in the produce aisle of any moderately stocked grocery store.   When I buy them at the Asian market they are round but at my local supermarkets they are square.  Either works just fine.  If wonton skins aren't available you can substitute quartered egg roll wraps.

2 c. (heaping) Grated Zucchini

1 Medium Green Tomato, finely chopped
2 T. Fresh Basil, finely chopped
1 c. Whole Milk Ricotta
1/2 c. Grated Parmesan
Cracked Red Pepper (opt.)
Wonton Skins  Look at the package quantity to determine how many packages to buy.  This recipe easily fills 40+, which requires 80+ wontons.

 Line a sheet pan with a couple layers of paper towels. Spread the measured squash on the towels and sprinkle with salt.  Allow to rest about 30 minutes so that the salt draws out the moisture.  Next squeeze as much water out as possible before placing the zucchini in a mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Place six to eight pasta squares at a time on your work surface.  Use a small scoop to portion the
filling onto the wraps.

Dip your finger into water and dampen the perimeter of the pasta.  Cover each mound with a second pasta square and press together to seal the edges.  Set aside on a parchment-lined baking sheet or a wire rack.  Repeat the process until you run out of filling.  

At this point you can freeze the ravioli in layers with parchment in-between.  Make sure the ravioli are not touching or they may freeze together.  If using frozen ravioli, do not
thaw before cooking.

To cook, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Salt the water.  Slip the ravioli into the water one at a time so that they don't stick together.  When the water returns to a boil and the ravioli float to the surface (2-3 min.) they are done. Remove with a spider strainer and place on parchment-lined pan.  I wipe the parchment with olive oil to prevent sticking.  Allow 4-5 per person.   Cook up a few extras, toss in olive oil and refrigerate to have leftovers ready for making crispy ravioli (recipe follows).

Zucchini Ravioli with Lemon Butter Sauce 

Up to 4 Servings

1 T. Olive Oil
2 T. Shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of Garlic, minced
1 c. Pinot Grigio
2 T. Lemon Juice
Grated zest of 1 Lemon
6 T. Cold Butter, cut into pats

Heat olive oil in a skillet and add the shallot and garlic.  Cook until softened.  Add the wine and lemon juice and zest to the pan.  Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Tip: Prepare the sauce while water is heating to cook the ravioli (see preceding recipe).  Place the finished sauce in a 150-170 degree oven to keep warm.  Spoon a bit of sauce on the plate before arranging the ravioli.  Drizzle additional sauce over cooked ravioli.  Garnish with capers and fresh basil.  
Serve with crusty bread and fresh salad or a small serving of broiled salmon.

Crisp Zucchini Ravioli with Kale Pesto 

1 Batch
Fresh Kale and Basil*

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
Juice of 1 Lemon 
1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/3 c. Walnuts
1/4 t. Nutmeg
1/2 c. Olive Oil +/-
Salt & Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper (optional)

*I don't usually measure the kale or basil.  I pick about 8-10 leaves of fresh kale and a few sprigs of basil from the garden.  The proportion is roughly 3/4 kale and 1/4 basil.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and, holding onto the stem, briefly dip each kale leaf in the water to blanch.  This does a few things.  It tenderizes the
kale, turns it a rich green and causes any hidden critters to float out.  They can be sneaky little buggers in curly kale.  The image at right shows both fresh and blanched kale.  De-stem the blanched kale and roughly chop.

Place all ingredients except the oil in the food processor.  Give it a few pulses to combine then turn it on and drizzle in the olive oil until a coarse puree has formed.  This may be more or less than (+/-) 1/2 c.  Season to taste.  Crushed red pepper flakes can be added to the pesto or sprinkled over the plated dish for serving.
Place chilled, cooked ravioli in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan.  Lightly dust both sides with flour tapped through a mesh strainer. 

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet or pot.  The entire bottom of the pan should be coated.  Arrange the ravioli in a single layer and cook to a golden brown.  Turn and brown the other side.  Remove to a wire rack placed in a low (150-170 degree) oven to keep warm while the
remaining ravioli are browned.

Plate the ravioli and top with the pesto.  Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes.

Kale pesto can be frozen for fresh from the garden flavor in the dead of winter.

To make these recipes year-round squash can be shredded, measured and frozen for the faux crab cakes and ravioli.  Thaw and squeeze to remove the water before using in the recipes.  For stuffed squash or zucchini select the appropriate size vegetables.  Slice and remove seeds as described above, blanch, cool and freeze.  

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