Dinner/ Side dish

Sautéed Zucchini (Garlic Lemon Parmesan Zucchini)

9 October 2022 | Last Updated: 17 October 2022 By Aleksandra

This easy recipe for sautéed zucchini makes a great side dish recipe that will go well with any protein such as chicken, seafood, beef, or pork. Pan-fried to perfection, crunchy zucchini is seasoned with garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, and pecorino (or parmesan) cheese.

Sauteed zucchini on a beige plate.

Ingredients

Below you will find information about the ingredients and how to prepare the recipe. For the measurements and detailed instructions scroll down to the printable recipe card.

Here’s what you need to make this easy recipe:

Labeled ingredients for sauteed zucchini.
  • Zucchini – you can also use yellow squash.
  • Olive oil and butter for cooking the zucchini. Alternatively, you can use clarified butter (which has all the butter flavor but doesn’t burn that quickly) or vegetable oil.
  • Garlic – fresh is a must.
  • Lemon zest and juice – add acidity and bright fresh flavor to the zucchini.
  • Red pepper flakes – for some heat, add to your taste.
  • Dried basil. Fresh basil would also be great if you have some on hand. If using fresh basil, add it only at the end.
  • Some grated cheese to sprinkle on top. My favorite is pecorino but you can also use parmesan. Pecorino has a more distinctive flavor (it’s made from sheep’s milk and parmesan from cow’s milk) but both of these cheeses work very well.

How to make Sautéed Zucchini step by step

A collage of 3 photos showing how to make sauteed zucchini.

STEP 1: Prepare the ingredients: cut the zucchini into thick, at least 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) slices (don’t slice it too thin!) or half circles (depending on the size of the zucchini). Finely chop garlic with a knife (and not a garlic press). Zest the lemon (preferably on a Microplane).

STEP 2: Brown the zucchini: Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. When hot add the zucchini in a single layer (if it doesn’t fit in a single layer it can overlap a little bit but you shouldn’t have multiple layers).

Cook until browned at the bottom then turn over and cook until the other side is browned making sure it’s still crunchy and not too soft. You’ll find more tips on cooking zucchini below.

STEP 3: Season pan-fried zucchini: Add the garlic, chili flakes, and lemon zest to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds over lowest heat or until the garlic is fragrant. Make sure to not burn the garlic.

Season the zucchini with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with finely grated cheese (preferably on a Microplane).

Enjoy!

Top tips for pan-frying zucchini

  • cut zucchini into thick slices – thin slices will turn soft and mushy pretty fast!
  • cook the zucchini over medium-high or high heat – this way it will brown and not steam
  • cook zucchini in batches to avoid overcrowding, or it will steam instead of browning, browning is where the flavor is!
  • how long to cook zucchini? it will depend on the thickness of the slices, but it usually takes just a couple of minutes (about 4-5 minutes on both sides)
  • don’t overcook it – it can turn soggy and mushy pretty fast
  • small to medium zucchini are best, large zucchinis can sometimes be watery – if you want to avoid that, you can remove the seeds with a spoon
  • if using large zucchini – cut it into slices and then into half circles
  • use a large skillet to cook it – this will prevent overcrowding zucchini
  • don’t salt it at the beginning – it will release moisture from the zucchini and prevent browning, season it will salt only at the end
  • the choice of cooking fat – for just 1 medium/large zucchini, it’s enough to use a combo of olive oil and butter to cook it over medium-high heat but if you have more zucchini you can use high smoke-point vegetable oil and cook it over very high heat to make sure it’s browning
  • if your zucchini is not browning uniformly – for example if the zucchini in the middle is already browned but the zucchini on the outside of the pan is still pale and raw, remove the browned zucchini to a plate and finish cooking pale zucchini in the middle of the pan

Storage

This zucchini side dish reheats very well. Keep it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in a 350°F (180°C) oven for a couple of minutes or in a dry non-stick pan.

I don’t recommend freezing zucchini – it will be mushy and soggy.

Serving suggestions

Sauteed zucchini on a beige plate.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

Sautéed Zucchini (Garlic Lemon Parmesan Zucchini)

This easy recipe for sautéed zucchini makes a great side dish recipe that will go well with any protein such as chicken, seafood, beef, or pork. Pan-fried to perfection crunchy zucchini is seasoned with garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, and pecorino (or parmesan) cheese.
Pin This Recipe! SAVE THIS RECIPE
Sauteed zucchini on a beige plate.
Print Recipe

RATE THE RECIPE

(click on the stars)

No ratings yet
Prep Time 6 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 86kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 lb (450g) zucchini 1 large
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • pinch of red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare the ingredients: cut the zucchini into thick, at least 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) slices (don’t slice it too thin!) or half circles (depending on the size of the zucchini). Finely chop garlic with a knife (and not a garlic press). Zest the lemon (preferably on a Microplane).
  • Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. When hot add the zucchini in a single layer (if it doesn’t fit in a single layer it can overlap a little bit but you shouldn’t have multiple layers).
  • Cook until browned at the bottom then turn over and cook until the other side is browned making sure it’s still crunchy and not too soft.
  • Add the garlic, chili flakes, and lemon zest to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds over lowest heat or until the garlic is fragrant. Make sure to not burn the garlic.
  • Season the zucchini with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  • Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with finely grated cheese (preferably on a Microplane).
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • The most important tip for this recipe: cut zucchini into thick slices and cook over medium-high or high heat until well-browned. It should still be crunchy and not too soft.
  • If your zucchini is not browning uniformly – for example if the zucchini in the middle is already browned but the zucchini on the outside of the pan is still pale and raw, remove the browned zucchini to a plate and finish cooking pale zucchini in the middle of the pan. If you’re doubling the recipe and have more zucchini to cook, then either cook it in batches or use high smoke point vegetable oil for frying and cook the zucchini over very high heat so that it can brown and not steam (if there is a lot of zucchini in a pan and it’s overcrowded then it will start to steam instead of getting brown, the browning on the zucchini is where the flavor is). You can cook the zucchini with butter and olive oil only over medium to medium-high heat, otherwise it will burn.
  • Don’t salt zucchini at the beginning – it will release moisture and prevent browning, season it will salt only at the end.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/4 of the recipe) – side dish portion size. This is only an estimate!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Diet Vegetarian
Tried this Recipe? Rate the Recipe and tell us what you think in the Comments!

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating




The maximum upload file size: 1 MB. You can upload: image. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here