This simple oven-roasted zucchini recipe is the perfect healthy side dish. A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese at the end of cooking creates a flavorful, golden crust on each slice.
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Sauteed, steamed, baked, or even spiralized into zoodles, zucchini is extremely versatile. However, roasting adds interesting layers of flavors with very little effort. Plus, it’s low in calories and carbs, making it a nutritious ingredient for those looking to up their vegetable intake.
I use a combination of Italian ingredients to create a savory and herbaceous taste. Most, if not all, can already be found in your pantry. Toss the zucchini with olive oil and dried seasonings, and in minutes, the slices are tender. But to take it to the next level, I add a cheesy crust. This recipe is a side dish that steals the spotlight at dinnertime!
Cut the squash
The dark green fleshed squash is high in moisture content, upwards of 90%! That means it will shrink down considerably when cooked. Therefore, I make them into at least ½-inch thick slices. Cutting on a bias or angle creates larger pieces. This helps keep their shape after roasting and not turn into shriveled up pieces of mush. It can also be quartered into spears, just keep an eye on cook time.
Use bold seasonings
To enhance the delicate flavor of the squash, I look to my pantry. Olive oil not only prevents the zucchini slices from sticking to the pan but also helps to draw out the fat-soluble flavor molecules in herbs and spices. Concentrated dried Italian seasonings and garlic powder quickly infuse into the vegetable. To add a hint of lingering spiciness, I use a small amount of red chili flakes.
Roasting delivers tasty vegetables- fast!
Turning up the oven to 400ºF (204ºC) creates a hot environment, perfect for quickly tenderizing and building flavor. To quickstart the process, I preheat an oiled sheet pan before adding the vegetables. It’s similar to heating a pan on the stovetop, which promotes browning.
This process evenly cooks the squash, simultaneously on the bottom and top. The oven tends to heat the exposed surface first, so I spread the zucchini in a single layer, giving each piece space to roast properly. It only takes about 5 to 7 minutes to cook the zucchini at this temperature. You can stop here, but I like to add some extra flavor with Parmesan.
Cheese creates a flavorful crust
Sprinkling a dry-aged cheese like Parmesan on top of the vegetables creates a beautiful crust. Under the broiler, the high heat makes the cheese bubble, which drives off moisture and turns the color a golden brown. It only takes a few minutes, so keep an eye on the progress. Otherwise, it could burn! Add some chopped parsley right before serving to add freshness to the dish.
Serve this with:
Preventing soggy zucchini
When slices of squash are heated, the cut cells of the plant release their moisture. If cooked too long, this can create soggy pieces. The high roasting temperature helps to turn some of the water into steam. Cutting thick slices and cooking for less than 10 minutes prevents mushiness. Alternatively, the zucchini can also be placed on a wire rack to circulate hot air underneath. However, this will help with evaporation and even cooking but will result in less browning.
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Herb Roasted Zucchini with Parmesan
- 2 pounds zucchini, about 3 to 4
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, optional
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Adjust the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Lightly drizzle a large sheet pan with olive oil. It can also be covered first with aluminum foil to reduce clean up.
- Cut zucchini on a bias (angled) to ½-inch thick slices, about 2 to 3 inches long pieces.
- In a large bowl, toss together the sliced zucchini, olive oil, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper, and chili flakes if using.
- Place the sheet pan in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, this will preheat the cooking surface,
- Remove the pan from the oven, then carefully spread the slices in a single layer on top.
- Roast the zucchini about 5 to 7 minutes, until just fork-tender.
- Sprinkle the cheese on top of the zucchini. Broil in the center of the oven for about 2 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese, serve warm.
- Serving Size: About 1 cup
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