When the garden overfloweth, it’s time to heat up the grill for an easy side dish of grilled zucchini topped with creamy goat cheese and pine nuts.
Zucchini are the David Copperfield of the vegetable kingdom.
One minute you’re gazing upon 3-inch still-room-to-grow zucchini when BOOM! with the slight of mother nature’s hand that cute little mini squash has suddenly turned into a 4-pound gargantuan with enough flesh for 324 loaves of zucchini bread or 41 pepperoni stuffed zucchini boats.
That’s veggie magic folks.
And this zucchini side dish is magic too. It’s healthy. It’s easy. And like the Italians do, it can be plated and set on a table to be ,served warm or at room temperature so it’s perfect for serving at a potluck or party.
Zucchini also makes just the right snack for a dog with a penchant for poaching whatever is closest to the edge of the kitchen counter. I came home one day a few years ago to this 80 lb. zucchini lover snacking on the living room rug. At least our boy Chewy made healthy choices when he counter surfed.
This is my go-to summer zucchini side-dish recipe. It’s a standard at Casa del Larsen and a dish I can eat for breakfast (with eggs), lunch (with pasta or as the base of a sandwich on sliced sourdough that makes me beyond happy) or dinner (as a side to pretty much anything that’s put into my mouth.)
It’s incredibly easy to slice a few zucchini then toss on the grill along with whatever else you have cooking.
How to Grill Zucchini
There’s not much needed to grill the perfect zucchini or yellow squash—or both!
Choose fresh, firm zucchini. If there are a few dimples or marks on the softer flesh, they should be fine. Just be wary of bruising or dark spots.
Slice and season simply. Slice the zucchini into long ribbons at least 1/4″ thick. Brush or drizzle with oil then season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. That’s all you need.
Grill zucchini over direct medium heat. When cooking zucchini sliced in long ribbons, there’s no need for a grilling basket or other accessories. Just make sure your grill grates are brushed clean of any loose leftovers from other grilling adventures. Grill the zucchini over direct medium heat between 350°F and 400°F.
The result is lush and tender ribbons of zucchini with the perfect char marks. The zucchini will look like it’s drying out as it cooks, but will rehydrate and soften even more once removed from the heat of the grill.
Do You Peel or Salt Zucchini Before Grilling?
With young, regular size zucchini there’s no need for peeling zucchini or salting zucchini before grilling it. Once grilled, the skin will be tender and delicious and add a bit of color to the dish. If you’re using those forgotten, overgrown zucchini from your garden, the skin will likely be really tough and the fruit full of seeds. Stick with the smaller zucchini when you can.
Ingredients In this Grilled Zucchini Side Dish
- zucchini or yellow squash
- olive oil
- goat cheese (when added to the warm zucchini, it’s heaven)
- toasted pine nuts (how-to below)
- fresh squeezed lemon juice, plus lemon zest (or a lemon-flavored olive oil is delish)
- flat leaf parsley or fresh thyme (if desired)
How to Toast Pine Nuts
Pine nuts are the soft and creamy nut often found in Mediterranean food. They’re used in making homemade pestos like this one, and are one of the most expensive nuts I find at the grocery store. But, their price tag doesn’t keep me from buying them, it just makes me extra careful when I toast them.
Toasting any nut brings out it’s earthy flavor. To toast pine nuts, place the nuts in a small non-stick pan and heat over medium heat. Allow the nuts to heat for 1-2 minutes, then watch very carefully, tossing often so they don’t burn. As soon as they begin to brown and you can smell their earthy aroma, transfer immediately to a plate or bowl to stop the roasting.
What to Serve as the Main Meal with Zucchini
- How to Make the Best Grilled Salmon
- Mediterranean Grilled Pork Chops with Tomato Salad
- The Best Grilled BBQ Chicken
- Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken
- Greek Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce
- How to Grill the Best Ribeye Steak
Grilled Zucchini with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts
- 4 medium zucchini
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon, plus lemon zest
- 3 ounces goat cheese
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/8 cup parsley leaves or fresh thyme leaves , optional
- Prepare a grill on medium heat and brush the cooking grates clean. Slice the zucchini into thin strips lengthwise, about 1/4" thick. Drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides. Set aside.
- Heat a small skillet over medium low heat on the stove. When hot, add the pine nuts and toast them, tossing constantly until they smell nutty and are lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Watch them closely as they will burn quickly. Pour immediately into a bowl or on a plate to cool.
- Grill the zucchini for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the zucchini softens and grill marks appear. Arrange on a platter, and drizzle with olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Top top with the goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, lemon zest and herbs if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Use toasted hazelnuts, almonds, or cashews instead of the pine nuts.
- Substitute 2 tablespoons of red wine or balsamic vinegar for the lemon juice.
- For a more Mediterranean flair, try feta cheese instead of goat cheese as a topping with chopped kalamata olives and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
More Zucchini Side Dishes to Make Now
- Easy 5-Minute Parmesan Zucchini
- Zucchini And Fresh Corn Farmers’ Market Salad With Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette
- Baked Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
- Stuffed Zucchini Hasselback Pepperoni Pizza Style
- The Best Easy Grilled Vegetables
- 55 Healthy Zucchini Recipes To Make Now
- 11 Use It Up Zucchini Recipes
Who can say “no” to pine nuts and goat cheese? Together. I am certainly not strong enough.
What are your favorite zucchini recipes? Leave a comment below!
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