The zucchini downsize: Three recipes to help solve the zucchini problem
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The zucchini downsize: Three recipes to help solve the zucchini problem

May 27, 2023

Our thirdborn son arrived for dinner on a recent evening to find me taking a fourth loaf of orange chocolate chip zucchini bread from the oven.

“I see you’ve been baking like an old lady, Ma,” he said.

Despite that, I fed him dinner and sent him home with half a loaf of his favorite zucchini treat.

In our house, we have two distinct baking seasons. Holiday baking begins in November with Thanksgiving pies and continues to Christmas week with cookies and fudge. But first comes August which as everyone in the Northwest knows is zucchini baking season.

This year, I feared the season would be canceled. Not because of a baker’s strike but due to a downsize in our garden.

We learned years ago that three zucchini plants were too many, but two is just right. More than enough squash for baking and cooking, with plenty to take as hostess gifts to summer barbecues or leave on our neighbors’ porches.

This year, in the throes of our newly emptied nest, my husband announced he was only planting one zucchini.

“Don’t worry,” Derek said. “You’ll have more than enough.”

But when friends started posting photos of their gourds on Facebook, and we had nary a blossom, I worried.

I needn’t have. (We don’t need to tell Derek he was right.) Though not as abundant or overwhelming as in years past, this harvest has been plentiful enough to keep me baking “like an old lady.”

Cheesy zucchini bread makes a great side for a juicy grilled ribeye. And I’ve already made impossibly easy zucchini pie several times because it also utilizes our bumper crop of luscious tomatoes, and it’s a perfect meal for two.

Finally, I just baked the first batch of chocolate zucchini cupcakes. I don’t frost them, so I can maintain the illusion that they’re a healthy snack, but I’ve included the recipe for the chocolate cream cheese frosting in case you don’t need to feel as virtuous.

3 medium zucchini

2 large eggs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 cup cornstarch

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley

Marinara for dipping, if desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. On a box grater or in a food processor, grate zucchini. Using cheesecloth or a dish towel, wring excess moisture out of zucchini.

Transfer zucchini to a large bowl with eggs, garlic, oregano, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan and cornstarch and season with salt and pepper. Stir until completely combined.

Transfer “dough” to prepared baking sheet and flatten toward the edges of the pan. Bake until golden and dried out, 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with remaining 2 cups mozzarella, crushed red pepper flakes and parsley and bake until cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes more.

Slice and serve with marinara.

1 small zucchini, chopped (1 cup)

1 large tomato, chopped (1 cup)

1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup Bisquick

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Layer zucchini, tomato, onion and cheese in pie plate.

Stir remaining ingredients until blended. Pour into pie plate.

Bake about 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

2 cups shredded zucchini

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

¾ cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder


8 ounce cream cheese at room temperature

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin cups with liners or spray with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, mix together zucchini, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder and mix. Spoon the batter into prepared cups, filling each about half full. Bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely on wire rack.

Prepare frosting: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Continue beating until smooth and whipped. Frost cooled cupcakes. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Contact Cindy Hval at [email protected].

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