There isn’t a vegetable that’s much more in tune with summer than zucchini. While they originated from Central and South America, the green variety we are most familiar with today was first grown in Italy.
The word “zucchini” derives from the Italian word “zucchino,” meaning little squash. As one of the most versatile summer vegetables, zucchini can be cooked in a several different ways, and it is a classic ingredient in many traditional Italian dishes. To help you integrate zucchini into your summer menu, here are ten of our favorite Italian zucchini recipes!
1. PIZZA DI PINA
At Mici, one of our favorite ways to cook with zucchini is on top of pizza. Our Pizza di Pina is made with extra virgin olive oil, a two cheese blend and fresh zucchini. Our love for zucchini-topped pizza began when our cousin, Pina, cooked it for us when we visited her in Italy!
2. INSALATA MISTA
If you’re craving a lighter take on Italian zucchini recipes, you should try our Insalata Mista! This fresh salad is made with mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots and zucchini. You can top it off with your choice of homemade Italian, ranch, balsamic vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing. Plus, it goes great as a side salad with a calzone or panini!
3. FRIED ZUCCHINI FLOWERS
This traditional dish is an Italian favorite during the summer. While many Italian zucchini recipes cook with the vegetable itself, this dish is made by frying the yellow star-shaped zucchini flowers in a light batter. Traditionally, the flowers are fried as they are, but they can also be stuffed with fresh mozzarella and basil, ricotta and herbs or even anchovies! Read more about this delicious treat here.
4. PASTA PRIMAVERA
Pasta primavera is a great mix of summer vegetables and pasta, and it is perfect for a summer family picnic. Made with bowtie pasta, this dish features zucchini, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, spinach and onions tossed with extra virgin olive oil, herbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
5. “ZOODLES” WITH TOMATO SAUCE
Substituting vegetables noodles for pasta has become increasingly popular. Zucchini noodles—or zoodles—are not only delicious, but they are great for gluten-free cooking and easy to make! You can make zoodles with a vegetable spiralizer or with a grater. Check out this recipe for zoodles and meatballs, or you can try zoodles with our delicious Cortonese meat sauce.
6. ZUCCHINI AND CARROTS FRITTATA
Like omelettes, frittatas are loved for the variety of ingredients they can be filled with. Toppings can include a variety of meats, vegetables and cheese that are mixed in with egg and baked. In Italy, frittatas are eaten any time of day and can be served hot or cold. For a summer twist on an Italian favorite, try out this zucchini and carrot recipe.
7. SUMMER MINESTRONE
Minestrone is a favorite Italian soup. Traditionally, it’s made with a variety of vegetables, beans and either rice or pasta cooked in chicken broth. Try this great summertime variation, made with zucchini.
At Mici, we don’t serve minestrone, but we do make our homemade Minestra di Fagioli with chicken broth, white beans, fresh spinach and Parmigiano-Reggiano. We also serve our Pomodoro e Basilico with chicken broth, tomatoes, onions, garlic, a touch of cream, fresh basil and parmesan.
8. ZUCCHINI PARMIGIANA
Chicken parmesan is a favorite Italian dish, typically made with breaded chicken breast topped with marinara sauce, and often times, vegetarian versions of this dish are made with eggplant. For a summer twist on this dish, try an easy 20-min baked zucchini parmigiana recipe. You can even take a stab at your own homemade tomato sauce!
9. BUCATINI CARUSO-STYLE
Bucatini is a thick pasta, like spaghetti, but with a hollow center. It is also known as perciatelli. Bucatini alla Caruso is a pasta dish named after Enrico Caruso, one of the most famous operatic tenors in the world. Born in Naples, Caruso is believed to have invented Bucatini alla Caruso, which is made with bucatini pasta, san marzano tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, chili pepper and zucchini. Check out the full recipe here.
10. ZUCCHINI TRIFOLATI
Zucchini is the main ingredient in several Italian entrees; however, it is also a star in this popular side dish. Zucchini trifolati is a traditional Italian side that provides a fresh, light accompaniment to almost any main course. It is made with diced zucchini, olive oil, garlic and parsley.
It should come as no surprise that zucchini is one of the most popular vegetables, especially with its versatility in cooking. Try some of these recipes, or bring the entire family in to any of our four locations to try some of our favorite zucchini dishes, made with only fresh, wholesome ingredients!