Whether you eat them straight away, or pack them for a picnic, these lemon and basil marinated zucchini and summer squash make a delicious, easy side dish.
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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. If it’s something like chicken satay then sides are generally plain and last-minute thoughts as there’s so much flavor in the chicken and peanut sauce.
But if we are grilling fish, for example, then I try to make the sides a bit more than a simple salad or grilled corn. These marinated zucchini are one of those more ‘interesting’ sides but one that’s really easy to make as well.
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 so easy, it has become one of those go-to sides in the summer.
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. It’s the traditional Italian way to prepare many marinated dishes, both vegetables like these and meat.
When we lived in London, I used to grill the zucchini (or courgettes as we know them in the UK) on my griddle pan since we didn’t have any outside space for a grill.
Having a grill was high on our list when we moved and we’ve made good use of it, with many old and new favorites from grilled chicken gyros and grilled butternut squash and steak with chimichurri to spinach feta salmon burger.
What we did manage more often in London, though, was picnics in the park with friends. On nicer days in the summer, it was a great way to catch up and relax.
These days with the kids running around it might be less relaxing, but at least if the park has a playground or there’s somewhere to ride a bike/throw a ball, they will be fairly occupied. Plus it can be easier than a restaurant (and cheaper).
These marinated zucchini and summer squash would be a great addition to any picnic table. While they are great warm after just a short marinade, the flavors get to work even more if they are left a while.
While the vegetables soften with grilling, they are still relatively robust and so transport pretty well. They’re so fresh and bright, they’re perfect for summer eating, whether warm or 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 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
- Zucchini corn fritters
- Panzanella salad
- Plus get more ideas in the summer recipes archives.
Marinated zucchini and summer squash
- 1 zucchini courgette
- 1 summer squash
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp 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.
- These would be great to nibble on alongside other picnic food, or else as a side to eg grilled fish (we had with tuna steaks) or chicken.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline’s Cooking Amazon store.
Try these other dishes perfect for a picnic:
Starters, Skewers, and Sandwiches al Fresco
- Antipasto Skewers by Soulfully Made
- Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Cream Cheese Slider Sandwiches by Bottom Left of the Mitten
- Italian Layered Portable Picnic Jars by The Weekend Gourmet
- Refrigerator Pickled Ratatouille Vegetables by My Life Cookbook
- Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps by The Crumby Kitchen
Stow-and-Go Sides and Salads
- Authentic German Potato Salad by Sunday Supper Movement
- 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
- Southern Cornbread Salad by Gourmet Everyday
Drinks and Desserts for Outdoor Dining
- Banana Snack Cake by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Blueberry Hand Pies by Our Good Life
- Cantaloupe Mint Lemonade by Palatable Pastime
- Cherry Poke Cake by Pies and Plots
- Chocolate Cherry No Bake Bars by The Freshman Cook