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, hormone-free mozzarella and fontina cheese and thinly-sliced, fresh zucchini. Our love for zucchini-topped pizza began when our cousin, Pina, cooked it for us during a visit to 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, green peppers and zucchini. You can top it off with your choice of homemade Italian, ranch or balsamic vinaigrette. Plus, it goes great as a side salad with a calzone or pasta dish!
3. FRIED ZUCCHINI FLOWERS (Fiori di zucca)
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! Try this recipe at home.
4. PASTA PRIMAVERA
Pasta primavera is a great mix of summer vegetables and pasta, and is delicious served either hot or cold. Toss your favorite pasta with zucchini, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, spinach, onions or any other vegetable that sounds good to you and simply add extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and you have a one dish meal.
5. Zucchini noodles
Substituting vegetable noodles for pasta has become increasingly popular and we recently jumped on the bandwagon! Zucchini noodles are especially delicious when paired with any of our family-recipe sauces, and are a healthy and delicious gluten-free option! They are even easy to make at home with a vegetable spiralizer!
6. ZUCCHINI 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 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 this zucchini ricotta frittata 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 variation, made with zucchini.
At Mici, we don’t serve minestrone, but we do make our homemade Fagioli with chicken broth, white beans, fresh spinach and Parmigiano-Reggiano. We also serve our Pomodoro which is a creamy tomato soup topped with fresh basil and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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 this zucchini parmigiana recipe.
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 locations to try some of our favorite zucchini dishes, made with only fresh, wholesome ingredients!