Italian-Style Grilled Zucchini and Squash


A full flavored zucchini and squash dish that takes minutes to prepare. photo by Nancy Duran

I’m still up to my ears in zucchini and squash. And so my quest to coax out their subtle flavor continues. This week’s recipe has got big flavor, is built for a crowd, and can be made well in advance of the meal. If you’re responsible for the side at a barbecue or picnic this weekend, this dish certainly ticks all the boxes.

I’ve found that the key to success when grilling or broiling zucchini and squash is a healthy dose of olive oil, and a good quality oil at that. The vegetables will soak up the oil and hold its flavor throughout the cooking process. While you can flavor that oil with just about anything (or nothing if you decide to take a purist route), here I’ve borrowed from Southern Italy in my approach. I’ve infused the oil with a mix of garlic, herbs, and chile flakes, taking subtle, to sublime. The veggies turned out sweetly caramelized, boldly spicy, and deeply pungent. The salty feta and sticky balsamic glaze were just the finish they needed, giving the dish the complexity to stand up tall next to the smoky grilled steaks with which they were paired.

Serves 8

1/2 cup good quality olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
3 1/2 pounds of zucchini and squash (because that’s how much had collected in my fridge), trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling
Fresh mint and basil leaves for garnish

  1. In a measuring jug, combine the oil, garlic, chile flakes, and chopped mint and basil. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  2. Place the zucchini and squash slices on two large baking sheets and brush each side with the flavored oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a barbecue to medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and squash in batches and cook about 2 minutes per side, until tender and lightly charred. Place the vegetables on a serving platter, scatter over the cheese, drizzle with balsamic, and garnish with mint and basil. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Nutritional analysis based on 8 servings (does not include salt and pepper to taste or balsamic for drizzling):
Calories 165, Fat 15g, Sodium 73mg, Carbohydrate 7g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 3g

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