Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.
When you see zucchini overflowing at grocery stores and farmers’ markets, you know that summer is not too far away. But, while it is available in stores year-round, the humble zucchini is at its best during the warmer months, and what better way to prepare it than on the grill.
Zucchini, or courgette, doesn’t have an abundance of flavor, so it needs a little help to make it shine. The grill’s high heat brings out complex flavors of the vegetable as its natural sugars caramelize. Also, because it has high water content, it is less dense than, say, a potato, which cooks quickly. You may want to add salt to the zucchini steaks or ribbons to leach out some water before grilling. This will take about 15 minutes; then, you pat dry the steaks with a paper towel.
So how to prepare the zucchini for the grill? You can either cut the zucchini lengthwise into “steaks” or thinly shave it into ribbons (use skewers if you want ribbons and soak them in water for 30 minutes if they are wooden.) Try to quash the temptation to slice zucchini into rounds as they can easily fall between the grates. Zucchini steaks have a large surface area for grill marks and pick up a delicious smoky flavor. They are a breeze to maneuver, unlike the rounds, and won’t fall through the cracks. You can serve the zucchini steaks alongside a protein or chop them into 1-inch pieces and toss them with herbs and salty cheese like feta.
Make sure you have the following equipment: a chef’s knife, a cutting board, a peeler or mandoline, a baking sheet, and of course, a grill. With a bit of grilling know-how, you’ll have a terrific side dish packed with beneficial nutrients, including Vitamins C and A, potassium, folate, and fiber.
- 1 pound zucchini (about three medium)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: Lemon zest, red pepper flakes, chopped basil, garlic salt, and feta to add to the finished product
- Heat the grill to medium-high, direct heat. Scrape the grill grates clean if needed.
- Cut the zucchini into 1/2-inch thick planks or ribbons and trim the ends. Alternatively, thinly shave the zucchini with a peeler (a Y-shaped peeler is ideal) or mandoline, and discard the core. If you would like to salt the zucchini to take out some of the water, then do so here. Wait 15 minutes, then pat dry with a paper towel.
- Thread the zucchini ribbons onto skewers. If grilling ribbons, fold each zucchini ribbon back onto itself like an accordion and thread about five ribbons onto each skewer. Place on a baking sheet.
- Season the zucchini. Drizzle the zucchini with two tablespoons of olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
- Grill the zucchini. For zucchini planks, arrange them in a single layer on the grill grates. Cover and grill without disturbing until grill marks appear and the zucchini is tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side. For zucchini ribbons, place the skewers on the grill grates (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your grill). Grill, occasionally turning, until the squash ends are charred, 4 to 5 minutes total.
- Add your optional flavoring ingredients if desired, and serve!
Zucchini can be cut up in advance one day and refrigerated before seasoning and grilling.
Have leftovers? Refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to four days.