It’s the middle of summer and the time of the year when zucchini are abundant. Zucchini are tricky little things. They can be delicious, but, if not cooked just right, they tend towards the watery and bland. So a great zucchini recipe is a real bonus.
Grilling zucchini is a perfect way to cook them. Grilling intensifies the zucchini flavor, evaporates some of the water, and adds a slightly smoky flavor. Plus it’s quick and easy.
As we sat outside on our friend Nancy and Jonathan’s outdoor lanai one evening, Nancy served us these delicious grilled zucchini as part of a barbecue dinner. I’ve had many a grilled zucchini, but none as wonderful as these. The citrusy sauce, with basil and little salty bits of capers, transforms these simple grilled vegetables into an especially good side dish.
Nancy said that this recipe has been adapted from a recipe by Laura Rothman from Serious Eats. She jazzed up the recipe with the addition of calamondin juice. Calamondin is a type of citrus that looks like baby tangerines. Nancy is lucky enough to have a calamondin tree growing in her backyard so she added some of the juice to the sauce. Tangerines can be substituted for the calamondins. I’ve made it with and without the added tangerine/calamondin juice. It’s delicious either way.
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons tangerine or calamondin juice (optional, see notes)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus additional for coating zucchini before grilling
- 2 tablespoons capers, water shaken off, and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced into 1/2" thick angled disks or quartered lengthwise
- In a small bowl, add lemon juice, lemon zest, tangerine/calamondin juice (if using), olive oil, capers and basil. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Zucchini need to be grilled on high heat: Clean grill grates (either gas or charcoal). Heat gas grill on high, covered, for about 10 minutes. Or use charcoal grill when coals are very hot and covered with ash.
- Lightly coat zucchini with olive oil (with hands or pastry brush). Put zucchini slices on hot grill. Cook covered until zucchini have brown grill marks on one side. Flip slices (just once) and cook on 2nd side until zucchini are just tender when pierced with a fork. Do not overcook. They go from tender to mushy very fast so watch them carefully.
- Transfer grilled zucchini to a serving platter, spoon sauce over them, and serve immediately.
- Sauce may be made a few hours ahead of time. It tastes even better when made ahead.
- Calamondins are a type of citrus and look like baby tangerines.