This easy zucchini recipe is the perfect last-minute side for just about any meal! Zucchini rounds sauteed in good extra virgin olive oil and finished with homemade balsamic glaze, sesame seeds and a sprinkle of dried mint or parsley. A couple of small tips make all the difference in this star side dish. Check them out along with my step-by-step tutorial below.
Humble, ubiquitously available zucchini are a staple of the Mediterranean diet. Lucky for us, they are nutrient-rich with loads of vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, C, and K, and minerals, like potassium and manganese. And did you know, zucchini slows down aging?! Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which help rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation that causes aging! Sign me up for more zucchini!
Zucchini Recipes I love
The exciting thing for me is that zucchini, like yellow squash, are so tasty and versatile. As a hearty main dish, I love to make this zucchini casserole or mom's stuffed zucchini. But on busy summer nights, I'll throw together some zucchini boats, grilled zucchini salad or a quick side like today's sauteed zucchini with balsamic reduction. The perfect last-minute addition to any meal!
More about this Easy Zucchini Recipe
This is an embarrassingly easy zucchini recipe. Zucchini rounds, sauteed in extra virgin olive oil with a little salt, pepper and sweet paprika. I like to make sure the zucchini get nice softer and gain some good color on both sides. Then, we finish things up with a generous drizzle of homemade balsamic glaze--this adds great flavor and brings out the natural sweetness of summer zucchini. For a simple garnish, a sprinkle of black sesame seeds (or toasted sesame seeds) and dried mint or parsley. That's all there is to it!
As this recipe really highlights zucchini as the star, it's important to start with good zucchini. I don't grow my own zucchini at this point, sadly, but I have learned a few tips for how to pick the best zucchini tips for how to pick the best zucchini.
How to Pick the best Zucchini
Growing up, my dad often took me to our local farmer's market, and during our shopping excursions, he made sure to teach me how to pick the best produce. When it comes to zucchini, I learned three things:
1) Look for smaller to medium sized zucchini. Larger zucchini can be more pulpy with too many large seeds. They can also be too watery and lack flavor. can be too watery and flavorless with larger seeds.
2) More flavor comes from more color. Zucchini come in all sorts of colors--dark green, light green, or yellow. But the more vibrant the color, the tastier your zucchini.
3) And I recently learned to look for zucchini that have a big chunk of the stem left. This is especially helpful if you're not planning to use the zucchini right away, they will last longer if they have a bit of the stem on. To store fresh zucchini, it's a good idea to wrap them in paper back and refrigerate in your vegetable drawer (they'll last for up to 1 week)
Here's How to Make this Easy Zucchini Recipe
1. Make the balsamic glaze. Add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes. You'll need to let the balsamic glaze cool, it will thicken some more.
Shortcut TIP: you can totally use store-bought balsamic glaze and save the time here.
2. In a large skillet, heat 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add zucchini and season with salt, pepper and sweet paprika. Saute for about 7 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, till zucchini soften and gain some good color on both sides.
3. Transfer sauteed zucchini to a serving platter and hit'em up with a generous drizzle of balsamic glaze. Sprinkle black sesame seeds (or toasted sesame seeds) and dried mint or parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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This easy zucchini recipe is the perfect last-minute side for just about any meal! Zucchini rounds sauteed in good extra virgin olive oil and finished with homemade balsamic glaze, sesame seeds and a sprinkle of dried mint or parsley. Be sure to check out the recipe notes and tips.
For balsamic glaze or reduction
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- Make the balsamic glaze or reduction. In a saucepan, heat the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes or so. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes; the balsamic glaze will continue to thicken as it cools (see shortcut option in notes)
- Meanwhile, in a large pan or skillet, heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add zucchini rounds and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Saute over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally until zucchini rounds soften and gain some color on both sides (about 7 to 10 minutes)
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer sauteed zucchini to a serving platter. Drizzle with the prepared balsamic glaze. Sprinkle sesame seeds and dried mint flakes on top. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
- Cook's Tip: These sauteed zucchini are meant to be softer, but maintain a little bite, with some good color on both sides. Cooking time will vary. It's best to use a large 12-inch skillet like this one, otherwise, cook zucchini in batches and do not crowd them in the skillet.
- Shortcut Tip: You can use store-bought balsamic glaze and save 20 minutes on cooking time
- Leftovers? You can store leftovers in a tight-lid glass container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.
- What to Serve Along: This easy zucchini makes the perfect side to other summer favorites like Mediterranean grilled chicken; chicken kabobs; steamed salmon. I often add leftover sauteed zucchini to grain bowls for lunch the next day!
- Recommended for this Recipe: All-natural sweet paprika and our Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives!)
- Visit our store to browse our spices, olive oils and bundles!
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Sauteed
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: Sauteed zucchini, easy zucchini recipe, zucchini recipe, zucchini in olive oil
*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2015 and has been recently updated with new information and new media for readers' benefit.