Grilled zucchini with mint salsa is an easy and healthy side dish that makes excellent use of an abundance of summer zucchini, and doesn’t require you to turn on the oven. The zesty mint salsa verde can serve double-duty for other grilled meats and veggies.
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen | The Complete Summer Cookbook | America’s Test Kitchen, 2020
Grilled zucchini often falls victim to both under-seasoning and overcooking. Try to address the former by cutting the zucchini into thin planks that can be seasoned more thoroughly, and you end up exacerbating the latter, as thinner pieces overcook in a flash.
To achieve well-seasoned, crisp-tender zucchini, we ditched the planks, halved the zucchini lengthwise, and mixed up a brine. Meat normally gets all the brining love, but a 45 minute soak in a saltwater solution produced incredibly well-seasoned zucchini.
During brining, salt diffuses from an area of greater salt concentration (our 10 percent salt brine) to an area of lesser concentration (our soon-to-be-delicious zucchini).
We quickly grilled the brined zucchini to pick up great char and smoky flavor, without turning it to mush. We paired the zucchini with a punchy riff on salsa verde, packed with refreshing herbs, garlic, and red pepper flakes for heat, and capers and vinegar for an acidic bite.
Look for zucchini that are about 2 inches in diameter. Zucchini brined with this salt concentration will start to taste too salty if brined longer than 1 hour. Brined zucchini can be removed from brine, patted dry, and refrigerated for up to 3 hours before cooking. —America’s Test Kitchen
Grilled Zucchini FAQs
How do I select the best zucchini?
As far as zucchini is concerned, bigger is not better. While summer zucchinis can turn into monsters if left in the garden too long, you’ll want to select those that are small to medium-sized (no longer than about 8 inches). Whether from the store or fresh from your garden, the zucchini should be firm to the touch and free of nicks and cuts.
What should I serve with grilled zucchini?
This dish is fantastic as a side next to any grilled meat, but especially those with Greek or Mediterranean flavors. Try grilled Greek chicken, lamb burgers, or make a vegetarian platter of several different veggies in addition to the zucchini – try eggplant, portabellos, yellow squash, peppers, carrots, whatever your heart desires – all served with the delicious mint salsa.
Can I make this without a grill?
Definitely. Use a grill pan set over medium-high heat and proceed with the recipe as directed.
Grilled Zucchini with Mint Salsa
This is a perfect side dish for times when you’re firing up the grill for other items on your dinner menu. Grilled zucchini are great when served warm or even at room temperature, so if you’re going to be grilling other items as well, we recommend grilling the zucchini first.
Make the grilled zucchini
In a large bowl, dissolve the salt in 1 quart of water. Add the zucchini to the brine. Weigh the zucchini down with a plate to keep them submerged.
Let sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes or up to 1 hour. Transfer the zucchini to a paper towel–lined plate and pat dry. Discard the brine.
If cooking on a charcoal grill, open the bottom vent completely. Light a large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When the top coals are partially covered with ash, pour them evenly over half of the grill. Set the cooking grate in place, cover, and open the lid vent completely. Heat the grill until hot, about 5 minutes.If cooking on a gas grill, turn all the burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all the burners on high.
Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place zucchini, cut side down, on the grill (directly over the coals if using charcoal) and cook until the zucchini are well charred on the bottom and the flesh just begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
Flip the zucchini and continue to cook until the skin side is charred, and the zucchini is slightly soft at the edges but firm in the center, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a serving plate.
Make the mint salsa
In a small bowl, stir together the mint, parsley, oil, vinegar, capers, garlic, and pepper flakes. Season with salt to taste, and add more oil, if desired. Spoon the mint salsa over the zucchini and serve.
Serving: 1portionCalories: 119kcal (6%)Carbohydrates: 7g (2%)Protein: 3g (6%)Fat: 10g (15%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 883mg (38%)Potassium: 507mg (14%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 4g (4%)Vitamin A: 1566IU (31%)Vitamin C: 43mg (52%)Calcium: 66mg (7%)Iron: 2mg (11%)
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Originally published July 28, 2022
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