Zucchini can be cooked in many exciting ways in many cultures. Our easy recipe for Italian sauteed zucchini is quick, healthy and delicious.
This recipe can be made in less than 30 minutes and is filled with Italian flavors that everyone will enjoy.
Italian Sauteed Zucchini
Knowing how to sautee zucchini Italian-style is very simple. This recipe is used by both sides of my Italian family. It can be served as a side dish, or as part of a main recipe for lunch or dinner.
Any type of zucchini will do, I list some common varieties below.
This recipe can be made with fresh zucchini or with store bought frozen zucchini. Of course, fresh is always better, but I’ve certainly sauteed my zucchini many times when it was frozen.
Ingredients Needed to Make Italian Sauteed Zucchini
To make sauteed zucchini Italian-style all you need are the following ingredients. All of which can be purchased at your local grocery store.
- Fresh Zucchini – 1 cup sliced rounds about 1/4″ thick
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 3 Tablespoons
- Garlic – 2-3 cloves
- Romano Cheese – Parmesan will do but has a milder taste
- Crushed pepper (optional)
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
Using Sauteed Zucchini in My Meals
Here’s a quick story about how we used fresh zucchini to spice up a basic pasta dish. Last week we were at Walmart and we checked out their produce section to find beautiful fresh organic zucchini that was firm, deep green and all over beautiful!
That night we had some pasta and in my attempt to try and add more veggies I took out some zucchini, sliced them up, sauteed them in olive oil and garlic, and the rest is history.
I’ve provided the super easy recipe below. If you prefer not to use olive oil, check out my zucchini with butter and garlic recipe as it’s very similar.
And don’t forget to save your zucchini flowers for pan frying!
Zucchini Nutritional Benefits
Zucchini is a fruit but usually treated as a vegetable. The Italian word for it is Zucchine. It has potassium, vitamin C, B1, B2, carotene, protein and vitamin E too.
It’s a great vegetable (fruit) to include in your repertoire of side dish foods, especially in the summer.
Sauted Zucchini – The basics
If you learn the basics of cooking zukes then you can add and expand from there. Here is what you need to know before trying to saute your zucchini.
Zucchini has a high water content
While it may not look it, zucchini has a high water content. That’s why when you saute it you don’t have to add water as it will naturally release it’s own.
You also don’t need to cover zucchini while cooking on a stovetop as this will trap the steam instead of releasing the moisture.
That was a common mistake for me at first, as I wanted to speed up the cooking time. So if you decide to cover the zucchini, only do it to start otherwise your zucchini will become very mushy.
The temperature matters
When sauteing the zucchini keep the heat no higher than medium. If frying (like for a Mexican dish) keep it higher and it will brown more. I tend to do a mix as I don’t like mine mushy and I don’t like the burn flavor in my Italian recipes.
Can you saute by itself or add in other veggies to change up the recipe
Zucchini sounds so boring but it certainly doesn’t have to be. In our house we saute zucchini with olive oil and garlic. I sometimes add in some fresh basil.
We also saute it with scrambled eggs and cheese.
One of my favorites is using fresh zucchini, garlic, adding in fresh chopped tomatoes, add a pinch of salt and then add in some penne pasta that is al-dente.
Types of zucchini you can use including Italian!
Zucchini is part of the squash family, that’s why the two are so similar. I’ve also substituted the zucchini with yellow squash in some recipes, but I prefer the zukes.
There is Italian zucchini which is my utmost favorite. It’s got a white skin and it’s a very mild flavor, perfect for people not crazy about typical zucchini. It takes some convincing for people to try it if they aren’t fans, but they are usually very surprised.
There is a cool site called rareseeds.com where I found a Sicilian Italian zucchini.
You can also try seed shopping on Amazon and you’ll see Black Beauty, Hybrids, Italian Ribbed, bush varieties and vine varieties too. Pay close attention to the latter if space is a concern if you plan on growing them.
However even bush varieties get HUGE and vines spread… like all over the place!
Using Frozen Zucchini
You can find frozen zucchini slices at almost any grocery store. Simply add the amount of frozen zucchini to your frying pan and do not cover. Since these are already frozen there are ice crystals which will melt. You want to cook the excess liquid off.
The flavor won’t be as strong as fresh zucchini, but it will still taste delicious.
Storing Sauteed Zucchini
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Freezing is also doable if you use a freezer bag. Just make sure the zucchini is fully cooled before adding them.
To reheat, saute over medium heat on the stove. There is no need to re-add any olive oil since it is already there.
So enough of that.
Here’s the recipe.
Italian Sauteed Zucchini
- 3 Tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 zucchini sliced in 1/4" thick – about 2 cups
- italian grated cheese Romano preferred
- Start by slicing the zucchini into 1/4 inch rounds or even thinner, set aside
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until medium, not super hot
- Crush some garlic (don’t mince), and add to the olive oil, stirring a bit and don’t let it burn
- When the garlic is fragrant, it’s time to add the zucchini slices in
- Spread the zucchini out and move them around periodically, they’ll shrink a bit as water is released.
- Saute for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until done to your liking (I like mine slightly firm not mushy), remove from heat
- Serve warm
- Serve as a side dish or as part of a pasta dish.
- Feel free to add in crushed black pepper or red pepper flakes
- No extra salt is added since it is in the cheese
- Depending on the zucchini size, estimate 1 cup of sliced zucchini per whole zucchini.