Marinated Zucchini with text
Side Dish

Marinated Zucchini

If you don’t like mushy squash, then this is a great side dish for you. The zucchini is first sauteed to your desired tenderness. It is then marinated in a tangy vinaigrette for at least 30 minutes, or until dinner is served.

Marinated Zucchini

Quick Summer Side Dish

Early this summer I was listening to the Bon Appetit Foodcast while driving between Lexington and Louisville. It has been one of my favorites to binge listen to while driving. One of the episodes brought up the idea of marinating foods after cooking. Since that day, I had filed this idea in my head as a must-try!

I decided to try out marinated zucchini and oh my! This has been one of my new favorite side dishes for summertime. For one, I wanted to get of my rut of grilling sliced zucchini and yellow squash in foil packets. Those dishes usually turn out mushy and watery. Plus, zucchini is so plentiful in the summertime. Why am I making the same old dish every time we fire up the grill???

This marinated zucchini, however, gave me a less tender squash with a flavorful vinaigrette. It was easy to prep, cook, and serve with pulled pork sandwiches and other grilled mains.

Marinated zucchini as a side dish

Steps for marinated zucchini

I started with slicing the zucchini in half lengthwise. I then seasoned them with sea salt and black pepper.

So, this is a bit backward from what must of think about marinating. We tend to marinate foods first and then cook them. For this recipe, I first cooked the zucchini slices in a cast-iron skillet and then marinated them in a shallow bowl.

Using a heavy cast-iron skillet gave the zucchini a nice char and smoky flavor. Like cooking a steak, I was able to control the doneness. I seared each side for at least 6 minutes. The zucchini was not mushy but done enough that a paring knife could easily pierce them.

Making the marinade is simple. Olive oil + an acid + garlic + herbs + salt and pepper all whisked together. For the acidic kick, I used rice wine vinegar. I enjoy the mildness and slight sweetness of rice wine vinegar, so it’s a staple in my pantry. It was perfect for this dish. I chose to stick to just one herb for this one: Basil.

I found that using the smallest and shallowest dish was helpful too. You want as much of the zucchini to soak in the marinade as possible. The marinating time takes about 30 minutes and the dish is served at room temperature.

All in All

Overall, this is a side dish keeper in my household. The zucchini is tender but not mushy thanks to the cast-iron skillet. The vinaigrette takes just minutes to whisk together. It is a flavorful dish that replaces my tired, old grilled zucchini packet.

Do have any side dishes that are in need of an upgrade?

Marinated Zucchini with text

Marinated Zucchini

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 52 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 4


  • 3 or 4 Zucchinis Cut in half length wise
  • 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil Plus more for sauteing
  • 1/2 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic minced; I used one large clove
  • 5-6 basil leaves


  • Cut zucchinis lengthwise and season them with salt & pepper.
  • Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add a small amount of olive oil to coat the pan (about one tablespoon). Let heat for about 1 minute.
  • Sautee zucchini in the skillet for 6-8 minutes per side. Test for desired tenderness of squash slices with a fork or paring knife. Remove slices and place in a shallow baking dish or serving bowl.
  • In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and basil. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.
  • Pour vinaigrette over the cooked zucchini and cover. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes and up to an hour. Serve at room temperature.