These lemon and basil marinated grilled zucchini and summer squash are such an easy side that's packed with flavor. You'll be amazed how delicious it becomes for so little effort!
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I don't know about anyone else, but I have some days when I am all about the mains, and others all about the sides. In summer, if it's something like chicken satay we keep it pretty simple since the chicken has lots of flavor in itself.
But if we are grilling fish or steak, for example, then I focus more on sides that have a little more to them. That doesn't have to mean complicated, though. And this twist on grilled zucchini is a perfect example.
This simple side is just a slight adaptation of a Nigel Slater recipe in Tender Volume 1, a Cook and His Vegetable Patch that I first made many years ago now. It's also very similar to Italian marinated zucchini, though that typically uses vinegar rather than lemon.
As you can probably tell, you grill the zucchini and summer squash, but you do this before you put them in the simple marinade. This helps them take on the flavor much more effectively and leaves them fresh and delicious.
In Italian cooking, you'll find this technique of grilling then marinating used with a few dishes, both vegetables like these and meat. It's great both for adding flavor and with meat, making it tender.
How to grill the zucchini
You can grill the zucchini/courgette either on the grill or using a grill pan. In both cases, you want to make sure you brush the slices with olive oil to help avoid the slices sticking as you cook. You also don't want to cook them too long - under rather than over-cooked is best here.
A grill arguably adds a little more of that smokey flavor than a grill pan, but you do have that risk of slices falling through the gaps. And a grill pan is a little easier to monitor cooking, but really as you prefer.
You can minimize the risk of losing slices (and making turning quicker) by either threading a few slices onto skewers or cutting long lengths rather than slices that you then cut after cooking.
You can also get special pans to put over the grill that hold in vegetables. Though I have to say I like getting grill marks on the slices which doesn't happen as easily with those.
Adding the marinade
Then, as the zucchini is cooking, get your marinade ready. It's only a couple ingredients so doesn't take long. You can also do it ahead of time if you need to watch the grill, and then whisk again gently before adding the zucchini as the mixture may separate.
Let the slices sit in the marinate a minute, then they are ready to serve. You can also let them cool completely and pack to take with you for a picnic, potluck etc. Since the slices are on the undercooked-side, they hold up pretty well to being stored and transported.
The longer the slices are in the marinade, the more they take on the flavor. So if you are not using them immediately, they will become more lemony. Personally, I like this, but if you think it may be too much, you can drain the marinade as you store them.
I recommend storing the slices, whether to use later or if you have leftovers, in the fridge where they will keep a day or two. You can then enjoy them either chilled or at room temperature.
The bright, simple flavors of a good olive oil, lemon and basil marinade transform some simple grilled vegetables into a stunning side dish. These marinated grilled zucchini and summer squash are definitely a side you should try soon.
Try these other favorite summer sides:
- Mexican street corn salad
- Caprese quinoa salad with beet and avocado
- Panzanella salad
- And if you want more zucchini sides, try some Greek zucchini fritters with feta, zucchini corn fritters or zucchini involtini (rolls filled with a ricotta filling).
- Plus get more ideas in the summer recipes archives.
Marinated grilled zucchini and summer squash
- 1 zucchini courgette (medium)
- 1 summer squash (medium)
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon basil leaves shredded
- Cut the zucchini and summer squash into medium-thick slices. Lightly brush them with a little oil and grill on both sides until gently browned and just soft.
- While the zucchini and squash are grilling, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, along with a little black pepper, in a bowl that will be big enough for the vegetables. Shred the basil.
- Once the zucchini and squash are ready, carefully toss them in the lemon and oil mixture (whisk a little more just before adding if they have separated), along with the shredded basil. Leave to marinade for a good 5 minutes and serve, or else leave them to come to room temperature and refrigerate until you need them. They should keep fine a day or two refrigerated. Best brought up to room temperature before eating, though chilled also works.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
This post was originally shared in July 2017 and has been updates, primarily with new photos and added video.
Try these other dishes perfect for a summer picnic:
- Antipasto Skewers by Soulfully Made
- Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Refrigerator Pickled Ratatouille Vegetables by My Life Cookbook
- Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps by The Crumby Kitchen
- Avocado Bacon Loaded Pasta Salad by Daily Dish Recipes
- BBQ Ranch Pasta Salad by Cooking With Carlee
- Broccoli Slaw by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Old Fashioned Potato Salad by Life Tastes Good