Zucchini which is also known as a marrow or baby marrow depending on where you live, is a popular summer squash which grows best in warm weather. It can grow for up to 1 metre but they are harvested while they are still immature at about 15 to 20cm. Botanically, zucchini originated as a fruit but many people tend to treat it as a vegetable since it was derived from a similar vegetable found in Mexico.Zucchini can be used to make salads, soups and it can also be treated as a side dish. When running on a budget during summer time zucchini is one of the go to ingredients since it is not expensive and it will be in season. However, the fact that zucchini goes out of season should not hinder you from making your favourite dishes, this article highlights some of the zucchini substitutes that you can use to make your favourite zucchini incorporated dishes.
1. Yellow squash
NB: Yellow squash is also a summer squash, commonly mistaken for zucchini thus, it is the best substitute for zucchini.
When you cannot find zucchini in your local store, yellow squash is the go to ingredient since they all belong to the same family.The canary yellow squashes are the best to use, but you can always use the crookneck squashes. Zucchini and yellow squash can be incorporated into the same dish and they can also be used interchangeably. When you slice up a yellow squash you can retrieve the same shape you would get when cutting a zucchini. Yellow squash as a substitute for zucchini is beneficial since it contains low cholesterol. The squash also contains beta-carotene and lutein which are antioxidants that protect the body from various diseases.
NB: Asian eggplants are the best zucchini substitute because they have the same size and texture which is similar to a zucchini.
Using eggplants as a substitute for zucchini is a good move since they are widely available and more flavourful as compared to zucchini so you don’t have to worry about how the dish will come out. The reason why the Asian eggplants are recommended over European eggplants is because European eggplants have a tough skin and they are large and bell shaped. Moreover, European eggplants tend to have a bitter taste sometimes, that is why they are salted 20 minutes before being cooked, this is labour intensive, however if you have the time you can substitute zucchini with the European eggplant. It is also important to note that if you are substituting zucchini with eggplant in a frying recipe you will need good papers to extract the oil from the zucchini since eggplants absorb a lot of oil as compared to zucchini.
NB: Cucumbers are a good substitute for zucchini but they are more juicer than zucchini although they have the same shape.
If you are an individual who enjoys zucchini in its raw state then substituting it with cucumbers is the best option. When making a salad you can use cucumbers to substitute zucchini. However, it is also important to also note that even though cucumbers are mostly eaten while they are raw or pickled, they can actually be used as zucchini substitutes in casseroles or baked dishes. So if you come across a casserole or baking recipe that contains zucchini don’t be afraid to substitute it with cucumber.
NB:a suitable substitute for zucchini when you are following a recipe for zucchini bread.
A pumpkin is also an excellent zucchini substitute when making zucchini bread since it has the same texture as zucchini. Pumpkins have more flavour as compared to zucchini, therefore when substituting zucchini with pumpkins the bread is guaranteed to have a lot of flavour. Pumpkins also contain beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin-c and fibre which actually make it a more favourable zucchini substitute when making bread.
5. Patty Pan
NB:Patty pan is also a squash but, it is not a perfect substitute for zucchini, but an acceptable one especially when following a zucchini incorporated baking or frying recipe.
Although patty pan is part of the squash family, they are found in 3 colours which are green, yellow and white. All patty pans can be used as a substitute for zucchini since they have the same texture as zucchini. When using patty pans as zucchini substitute just make a layer of the patty pans in a dish and bake them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. If you are not keen about baking you can incorporate patty pan in your salad whilst it’s raw as a substitute for zucchini. The best part about using patty pan is you don’t need to peel it, just trim of the ends and wash it before adding it to your salad.
6. Chayote squash
NB: it has a tough skin so it is important to peel off the skin before slicing it or cooking it.
Chayote squash can be substituted for zucchini, and it is a popular vegetable in Latin America and Asia. Although it does not have the same shape as a zucchini it has the same texture. A chayote has a mild sweet flavour and a slight taste that is similar to the cucumber.
Zucchini is a popular vegetable which is incorporated in many dishes, however it is very difficult to find when it is not summer time. Its unavailability on the market shelves should not hinder you from cooking your favourite zucchini incorporated dishes, there are still substitutes that are available to replace zucchini. These substitutes are just as affordable as zucchini so there is no need to worry. You can opt to use other summer squashes as substitutes for zucchini for example the yellow squash, the chayote squash the pumpkin as well as patty pans. If you do not have any summer squashes that are mentioned you can then opt to use cucumbers, and eggplants since they also act as good substitutes of zucchini.