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. 

Serve this quick zucchini recipe with your favorite Mediterranean meal including chicken kabobs, Mediterranean grilled chicken, Greek Keftedes, or even Steamed Salmon

Easy zucchini recipe with balsamic reduction, sesame seeds and herbs

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 quick sides like 10-minute grilled zucchini spears or today's sauteed zucchini with balsamic reduction. The perfect last-minute addition to any meal!

Sauteed zucchini on fork with balsamic glaze and black sesame seeds

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.

Fresh zucchini sliced into thin rounds

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.

Balsamic glaze in a saucepan

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.

zucchini sauteed in skillet with olive oil

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.

Zucchini with balsamic glaze and black sesame seeds

More Recipes to Try:

Greek Green Beans: Fasolakia

Easy Caprese Chicken

One Pan Mediterranean Baked Halibut and Veggies

Baked Slamon with Cilantro Sauce

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Easy zucchini recipe with balsamic reduction, sesame seeds and herbs

Easy Skillet Zucchini Recipe with Balsamic Reduction


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4.8 from 21 reviews

Description

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. 


Ingredients

Scale

For balsamic glaze or reduction 

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

For  Zucchini

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, more if needed
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼"-thick rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • pepper
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Black sesame seeds or toasted sesame seeds, optional
  • Dried mint or parsley flakes, a handful

Instructions

  1. 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)
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pan or skillet, heat 2 tablespoon 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)
  3. 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.

Notes

  • 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!
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Sauteed
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2015 and has been recently updated with new information and new media for readers' benefit.

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. Liz says:

    This is genius! Such an easy, delicious way to jazz up zucchini!!






  2. Becky Hardin says:

    These look amazing. I can not wait to try them.






  3. Karla says:

    This was excellent. For a large family, start early. The cooking takes awhile. I also did not get my vinegar to thicken, but used anyway.
    I would definitely make again!

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Wonderful, Karla! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sasha says:

    Another vegan one to make! Thank you, Suzy!

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Great, Sasha! Enjoy!

  5. Faith VanVliet says:

    Hi! Love simple in the summertime. Your additions were terrific. I'm from Grand Rapids too!

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Hi Faith! Thank you! So glad to hear you enjoyed this zucchini dish. Yay for GR!!!

  6. Denise Rasberry says:

    Thanks!

  7. Steve I Dang That's Delicious says:

    Love the photos and the recipe. This is on this week's rotation! Keep up the great work!

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Thanks tons, Steve! I'll be eager to hear how you like it!

  8. Kristen @ The Endless Meal says:

    I swear this is the best looking zucchini I've ever seen! Yum!!






    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Thanks so much, Kristen! It's such a simple way to make zucchini, but so good! Great to see you here, friend.

  9. Vince M says:

    Every recipe of yours I've pulled up I've printed with intent to cook soon. Your photography is very...persuasive.

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Vince, I am so humbled. Thank you so much! I promise the food is as tasty as it looks 🙂 Let me know if you ever try a recipe.

  10. Chahaya @ Sweet Si Bon says:

    Perfect seasonal recipe, balsamic reduction on zucchini is the best! I've never had it with mint, so I'm looking forward to trying it. Gorgeous pictures.

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Chahaya, great to see you here! thank you so much for your sweet comment. Hopping over to see your work!

  11. Jocelyn (Grandbaby cakes) says:

    Wow this looks sooo good. I love the flavors in this!

  12. Denise Rasberry says:

    Just so happens I have zucchini. Trying this recipe today!

    1. The Mediterranean Dish says:

      Yay, Denise! Let me know how it goes.

  13. mila furman says:

    Following you on Instagram lady!!! I started my career in events too! I did it for so long that I got jaded at a very young age and realized food was tugging at my heart strings... And can we talk about how gorgeous this recipe is! I am just dying! Absolutely glorious!

  14. Letty Peña Blanchard says:

    Yum!

    1. The Mediterranean Dish says:

      Letty, will you try this one?

    2. Letty Peña Blanchard says:

      Definitely! I love zucchini!!

  15. Carol Brown says:

    Yum!

    1. The Mediterranean Dish says:

      It is, Carol! Hope you give it a try.

    2. Carol Brown says:

      Will do this weekend, if not too hot!

    3. The Mediterranean Dish says:

      This is great served just warm or even at room temp!

  16. Ginger Lobdell says:

    Oh man! Another recipe I'll be trying ASAP! 🙂

    1. The Mediterranean Dish says:

      Awesome, Ginger! This one is super easy. I'll be eager to hear how you like it.