A Solution For All That Zucchini

Pan-fried zucchini and yellow squash with cumin and turmeric.

If you’re growing it in your backyard, chances are you’ve got your arms full of the tender, green summer squash that tends to multiply more than a Tweeted celebrity rumor run amok.

In fact, just the other week, a friend gifted me a zucchini that was as big as my head.

OK, maybe I exaggerate. But only a little, because it surely was as big as my forearm.

What to do with this Everest of squash?

You can only make so much zucchini bread, right? And sauteing it and roasting it as a side dish gets pretty ho-hum after awhile.

Cookbook author Monica Bhide comes to the rescue. In her newest book, “Modern Spice” (Simon & Schuster), the New Delhi-born food writer spotlights Indian dishes that are easily accessible for the home cook.

Her recipe for “Pan-Fried Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Cumin” is a vibrant answer for what to do with all that zucchini and summer squash. Cumin seeds, ground turmeric, lemon juice, and cilantro combine to create a super easy dish full of warming flavors.

Bhide writes in the book that it is one of her favorite Monday night recipes because it is so simple and quick. That it definitely is. Moreover, the dish calls for ingredients that you probably already have handy in your pantry and fridge.

It makes for a nice light side dish that would be fabulous alongside fish, shrimp or scallops. The spices lend earthy, slightly bitter notes that really warm your body.

The dish comes together in all of 15 minutes.

With a dish this easy and satisfying, there’s no excuse to be intimidated by Indian cooking any more.

Pan-Fried Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Cumin

(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 large zucchini, dice

1 small yellow squash, diced

1/2 organic red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes


1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish1/2 organic red bell pepper, seeded and diced

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add the zucchini, squash, and bell pepper.

Fry the vegetables over high heat until they soften and begin to brown, 8 to 9 minutes.

Add the turmeric and chile flakes and cook for another minute, until the spices are well mixed with the vegetables. Stir in salt to taste.

Serve hot, sprinkled with lemon juice and garnished with cilantro.

From “Modern Spice” by Monica Bhide

Print This Post


  • A delicious way of preparing that vegetable! A friend of mine also gave me zucchinis as big as my forearm ;-P…



  • Although 95% water, which can cause a dish to become a soggy mess, zucchinis can be quite versatile. Here’s 17 recipes I posted a while back http://xrl.us/be5mk7 — all quite different than you normally see — plus a bonus recipe http://xrl.us/be5mna which has been quite popular at dinner parties.

  • I didn’t put any zucchini in my garden this year, because last year, I kept literally LOSING the zucchini in the garden! I would go out and look for zucchini ready to be picked and NOT see them until they were at least 2-3 feet long!! Perhaps next year I’ll give it a try again! I am getting some beautiful ones (regular sized thank goodness) from my CSA this year, so thanks for the inspiration!

  • sounds delicious! I have a bunch right now from my CSA and was getting tired of it grilled…

  • OK, on first glance at that photo, I *so* thought this was going to be a creative summer salad with zucchini, watermelon (!) and some sort of yellow-fleshed melon, or maybe mango — which has me thinking…zucchini, watermelon, mint &/or cilantro….? Might have to do some fiddling around with that possibility! I’ll have to click on Peter’s link now — maybe he’s already invented this and can save me the tinkering 🙂

  • Heather: You have stealth zucchini! 😉

    Carroll: That’s funny! But you’re right — the red peppers flecked with cumin seeds do resemble watermelon.

  • Adding cumin is nice. It’s one of the spices we add to a lot of dishes, actually. Good one to keep in mind.

  • Aww, I thought you would make cupcakes out of them! 😉

  • Alas, I have no free supply of zucchini but it is pretty cheap at the markets these days. I’ll have to make this.

  • That’s such a colorful and flavorful dish! Sounds like a great way to change up the use of zucchini.

  • I have SO much zucchini and yellow squash on hand right now too. It comes with great abundance this time of year. Yummy dish!!

  • To me, zucchini was always a blank slate, with little flavor of its own, a texture that is just too sensitive to cooking, and a water retention problem that sounds like true confession at a Weight Watchers meeting. But then I saw Iron Chef America’s Battle Zucchini and the panelists kept talking about dishes that captured zucchini’s character.


    So in the back of my head is this notion to try making zucchini a happy member of my kitchen arsenal. Perhaps I will try this as a first exercise. Interested in any other suggestions for making good use of zucchini in ways that don’t hide the zuke!

  • The other tip for cooking zucchini that I got from Mary Risley, owner of Tante Marie cooking school in San Francisco: Seed the zucchini much like you would a cucumber, by just scraping out the watery, center part or cutting out that part. That way you’re left with just the crisp outer region. This is especially worthwhile when cooking LARGE, older zucchini.

  • You know I like Monica’s book, but I especially like your scraping-out the core tip. I’ll try it the next time I saute zucchini over extremely high heat, which is my favorite way to prepare it.

  • Sounds like a great recipe. I don’t have garden (I wish but no outdoor space whatsoever) but I have been getting HUGE zucchini with my CSA share and this sounds like it would be a great use for it. Thanks as always for the great recipe suggestion. As a side note, I went to a wine tasting today at a local vineyard and it was almost as good as being in CA. Miss the beautiful Russian River Valley and jealous that you have it so accessible.

  • My 3-yr old daughter raised a zucchini at her day care. Tonight, I sauteed it with sun dried tomatoes, garlic, tomatoes, and pine nuts & tossed it with rice pasta — topped off with grated parmesan. Really, really good. The zucchini/cumin recipe you gave us looks awesome too.

  • Oh yeah, given an Indian twist to this ingredient is bound to be good.

  • Beautiful recipe and very timely!

    I love zucchini,

    I always plant it in my garden beds and

    I always have more than enough to spare.

    Now if I can just find recipes for all of the weeds

    that have taken over garden, I’ll be set. 🙂

  • Great recipe I love zucchini, you have a wonderful blog.

  • Pingback: Primo Recipes Blog » Zucchini’s in Season!

  • I am growing it in my backyard but apparently, they’re not getting pollinated due to a lack of bees and keep withering away instead. 🙁

    I’ll try again next year and plant more bee attracting flowers near it!

  • What a very delicious and fine dining dish you have their. Aside from it is yummy it is also delicious. The only thing that you can eat nutritious veggies is how will you cook it and prepare it. Here are some veggies recipe from tanya’s site, hope you’ll like it too.

  • Wish I had this recipe when we were awash in zukes last year! We decided not to put in any these year; I didn’t think I’d regret it until now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *