What do I do with all this zucchini?

Awesome ways to use those plentiful zucchinis.

If you are a gardener, you know the problem: You plant these tiny little zucchini seeds in the spring, and by midsummer you are practically swimming in zucchini. They’re everywhere!

Zucchini are low in calories and sodium with good amounts of vitamin A and C. Just a cup gives you about 20 percent of your daily vitamin needs. Keep in mind all the vitamin A is in the skin, so don’t peel your zucchini if you can avoid it.

The easiest way to fix zucchini is also one of the best. Cut it into cubes, a half- to one-inch thick. Sauté finely chopped onion in olive oil, then stir in the zucchini while the oil is quite hot. Cover and steam it until it is tender. This searing seals the juices inside so the squash holds its shape and flavor. You can also grate, blanch and freeze it to make zucchini bread in the winter.

Summer Bounty Zucchini

5 large zucchini

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped green onion

2 tomatoes or ½ cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fresh tarragon

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Cut zucchini into 1-inch chunks. If using whole tomatoes, cut into wedges, and cut wedges in half. Sauté onions and celery in oil. Add zucchini and tomatoes, stir to cover with oil, then add fresh basil, parsley and tarragon. Cover and steam until tender. Serves 4-6.

Nutrition information: Calories: 117, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Protein: 5 g, Sodium: 56 mg

Baked Zucchini

This is great for those one or two huge zucchini that somehow hide in the garden under the big leaves too long.

1 really large zucchini

½ onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup parsley, chopped

¼ cup fresh oregano

1 cup celery, chopped

1-2 cups homemade or low sodium tomato sauce (or 1 can tomato paste mixed with 1 can water)

¼ to ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out inner flesh, leaving skin intact. Cube flesh. Sauté onion, garlic and celery in olive oil. Remove from heat, add fresh herbs and mix in tomato sauce and cubed zucchini. Place zucchini, cut side up, in baking dish, fill with tomato/zucchini mixture. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered until done, 30-40 minutes, or until fork pierces outside skin easily. Slice and serve. Serves 6-8.

Nutrition information: Calories: 94, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Protein: 3 g, Sodium: 73 mg

Easy Marinated Zucchini Salad

3 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)

1 tablespoon sugar

1-2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 cups thinly sliced zucchini

Whisk together rice vinegar, sugar, dark sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Pour over 2 cups thinly sliced zucchini. Cover and chill. Serve with cold sliced chicken, pork or cooked shrimp for a light and tasty lunch plate. Serves 4.

Nutrition information: Calories: 43, carbohydrates: 5 g, Protein: 1 g, Sodium: 6 mg

The information in this column is meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.

[Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. She was the 2014 recipient of National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition’s Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award, and she has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at www.nwkidney.org.]

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