Zucchini is considered a summer squash, but you might find it in stores year-round, depending on where you live. Whether you regularly enjoy zucchini or you’re new to this versatile vegetable, there are numerous ways to cook it. From spiralizing it for zucchini noodles to carving out the inside and making zucchini boats, this vegetable is not only tasty but also has many health benefits.
If you want to learn how to cook zucchini, you can saute, roast, grill, or air fry it to include in a variety of recipes. Before we dive into the four ways to perfectly cook this summer squash, let’s discover some of the benefits of eating zucchini.
Benefits of Eating Zucchini
Like most vegetables, zucchini can be a beneficial part of your diet, no matter how you choose to cook it. Zucchini is full of nutrients and has many other benefits that make it a worthwhile vegetable to include in your meal planning. Here are a few of the benefits of eating zucchini:
Rich in Nutrients
Hands down, the best benefit of zucchini is that it’s full of necessary nutrients. Zucchini is high in vitamins and minerals such as antioxidants, vitamin A, manganese, vitamin C, and potassium. One cup of zucchini provides 40% of your daily value of vitamin A. Even with all these nutrients, it’s still relatively low in calories, carbs, and sugar. It’s not a great source of protein but can be included as part of a high-protein meal.
Promotes Healthy Digestion
Another benefit of eating zucchini is it can help you have a healthy digestive system. Zucchini has soluble and insoluble fiber, which can both aid in a healthy digestive system. Additionally, zucchini has a high water content, which can also benefit your digestive system in the long run.
Simple and Easy to Cook
While some vegetables can seem difficult to include as a part of your weekly meals, zucchini is versatile enough to use in a variety of meals such as omelets or pasta. You can also use zucchini to make a tasty side dish and it’s easy to prepare since you can eat it cooked or raw.
How to Prep Zucchini
Another benefit of eating zucchini is there’s very little prep work involved. Zucchini is safe to eat raw or cooked, and while you can peel it if you choose, the skin is safe to eat as well. How you prepare your zucchini is going to depend on what you’re using it for.
For example, If you’re planning on putting your zucchini in the air fryer or sauting it in a pan, cut it into slices. However, if you’re planning on making zucchini noodles, you will need a spiralizer or you can slice it into ribbons with a vegetable peeler.
For the four ways we share below, all you’ll have to do is clean your zucchini and cut it into slices that are about ¼ of an inch thick. Some other ingredients to have on hand are olive oil, seasonings, and parmesan cheese.
One other thing to consider is zucchini contains a lot of water. To keep your zucchini slices crisp, especially before putting them in the air fryer or the oven, you can draw out some of the moisture by salting them. After putting some salt on top of the zucchini slices, wait a few minutes and then pat them dry with a paper towel. This will keep them from getting soggy while you cook them.
How to Saute Zucchini
One of the easiest ways to cook zucchini is to saute it on the stove. You can use this method to make an easy side dish or you can throw in some sausage or other protein with the zucchini for a simple weeknight meal.
Here’s how to saute zucchini:
- Add oil or butter to a medium-sized skillet and heat it to medium heat
- Once hot, add your zucchini slices to the skillet
- Cook the zucchini, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until tender
- Once the zucchini is cooked to the desired consistency, remove from the skillet
After sauteing your zucchini, you can either serve them up with just salt and pepper, or you can get creative and add extra flavors. It’s going to be healthier to serve them without extra butter and cheese, but if you’re not counting calories, you can make the zucchini taste pretty delicious by adding melted butter and parmesan cheese.
How to Roast Zucchini in the Oven
If you’re looking for a way to make a simple and easy sheet pan dinner, one of the quickest ways to do this is to roast your zucchini in the oven. Much like sauteing the zucchini, this makes it easy if you want to cut up sausage slices or another protein to add to the baking sheet.
Here’s how to roast zucchini:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
- Coat your zucchini slices in olive oil or melted butter
- Season your zucchini with salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings
- Arrange the zucchini slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired
- Bake the zucchini for 35-40 minutes or until crisp
If you’re preparing the zucchini in the oven, you can easily add a protein such as sausage directly to the baking sheet. Keep in mind the zucchini doesn’t take long to cook so it’s best to add something that cooks quickly or you can start cooking the meat prior to adding your zucchini to the oven.
How to Cook Zucchini in the Air Fryer
The air fryer has become an incredibly popular appliance because it’s so simple and easy to use. It’s also a good way to create healthier meals. Air frying vegetables makes them crispy but without all the extra oil and grease you normally get from frying.
Here’s how to cook zucchini in the air fryer:
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F
- Spray the air fryer basket to prevent the zucchini from sticking
- Place your zucchini slices in the air fryer and bake for about 10-15 minutes, flipping them over halfway through
- Remove the zucchini from the air fryer when they’re crisp
The air fryer can be a great way to cook zucchini and many other vegetables. Depending on how many zucchini slices you’re making, you might have to cook your zucchini in batches.
How to Grill Zucchini
There’s no doubt that most vegetables taste better when grilled. However, this isn’t always a practical option for everyday cooking. If you do have the opportunity to grill your zucchini, any kind of grill can add a unique flavor to your dish.
Here’s how to grill zucchini:
- Cover the zucchini with olive oil and season
- Preheat the grill to medium heat
- Place the zucchini slices on the grill
- Grill for about 5 minutes on each side, until cooked
- Once cooked on both sides, remove from the grill
While you can choose to slice your zucchini in ¼ inch slices before placing them on the grill, it’s also great to cut the zucchini in half and place them flat down on the grill as well. How you choose to cook them will depend on the type of grill you have.
Ways to Serve Zucchini
This delicious summer squash is something the whole family will enjoy, but if you’re wondering how to include more zucchini in your diet, there are numerous ways to do so. Whether you’re cooking for picky eaters or you’re looking for creative ways to include more vegetables in your diet, you can make:
- Zucchini fries
- Grilled zucchini and top it with cheese
- Stuffed zucchini boats
- Baked zucchini chips
- Zucchini lasagna
No matter what you’re thinking of making, zucchini has numerous health benefits and can be a tasty vegetable to include in your next breakfast, lunch, or dinner meal.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Fotoksa/Shutterstock.com.