Zucchini squash is a summer vegetable with a thin skin. This vegetable lends itself to fast cooking methods, as its high water content means that longer cooking methods such as stewing or slow cooking tend to make it become mushy. When you have extra zucchini squash on hand, use a different cooking method each night to add variety to your diet. Zucchini cooking methods will also work with any thin-skinned variety of summer squash.
Blanching is also called boiling. Blanching requires the zucchini to be plunged into ice water immediately after it reaches the desired tenderness in the boiling water, usually after one to three minutes. This cold water bath stops the cooking and keeps the zucchini from becoming limp and overcooked.
Steaming zucchini has the advantage over boiling as the vitamins from the squash do not get left behind in the cooking water as happens with boiling or blanching. Zucchini can be put into a steamer basket over boiling water or in an electrical vegetable steamer for three to five minutes.
Grilling zucchini adds a light smokey flavor and appealing grill marks. To grill the squash, brush slices of zucchini with olive oil and grill over direct heat for three minutes per side. Move the squash to indirect heat to cook until tender, up to 10 additional minutes. Try grilled zucchini slices on a sandwich, with or without meat.
Stir-frying zucchini quickly cooks the vegetable in a small amount of oil in a wok or skillet. Sliced zucchini only takes three to six minutes to become tender with stir frying. Add this vegetable to your next stir fry dish or medley of sauteed vegetables.
Bake the squash at 350 degrees for 30 minutes if left whole. If you slice the zucchini, it will cook much more quickly, in which case check it frequently and remove from heat when it's tender. To protect this delicate vegetable from overcooking in the oven and to create a crunchy topping, sprinkle crushed crackers or toasted bread crumbs over the zucchini during the last five to 10 minutes of cooking. Alternatively, scoop out the center seed cavity and fill it with a meat stuffing before baking and cook until the stuffing has heated through.