This Italian baked zucchini is a quick meal that anyone can make. Who wouldn't love a dish of Italian zucchini that is topped with marinara and cheese for dinner! This is a delicious cheesy zucchini dish that everyone will love and it is ready in no time.
What is Italian Baked Zucchini
Italian Baked Zucchini is a delicious way to make zucchini as a main dish and definitely a zucchini recipe to keep in your repertoire. This is basically a baked zucchini parmesan but without the breading and my favorite zucchini recipe to make.
This Italian zucchini recipe is a great main dish because it gives zucchini a star role on your table. Italians love making baked vegetables with tomatoes and cheese and this baked zucchini is no exception.
Making this zucchini
Now even though this is called a baked zucchini, the zucchini is cooked first either in a skillet or on a grill pan. You bake everything together after preparing your ingredients until it is bubbly and the cheese is nice and melted.
This is also not a layered dish like a lasagna. Very important distinction!
The delicious part of this Italian baked zucchini recipe is that you get equal amounts of zucchini, sauce, and cheese in each bite.
The flavors in this Italian zucchini are so incredible and it is so easy to make. Most of the cooking and the prep work to get this dish ready can done before the baking.
If you do want to make this ahead of time, just grill or sauté your zucchini first, then gather your other ingredients and have them ready, and then keep everything refrigerated until it is time to assemble.
The Marinara and Sides for this Italian Zucchini
For the sauce, you can use any marinara sauce recipe you love or your favorite jarred marinara (there are so many amazing ones like RAO's that are from Italy and so delicious). My favorite Easy San Marzano marinara is also really easy and delicious! If you have a bolognese sauce, you could use that too for an extra meaty bite!
You will want to make sure you have enough marinara available to go over the zucchini and some extra to go over some pasta like my cherry tomato pasta, or pasta with white wine and garlic butter sauce if you are serving some on the side (my favorite way!) Maybe you want to serve it with some garlic crostini to soak up the sauce!
How to make
- The first thing you want to do when making this Italian zucchini is grill (or pan-fry) your zucchini strips. You can use a grill pan, grill or sauté pan for this step.
This starts the cooking process for this zucchini since it doesn't spend too much time in the oven later on.
- Once you have cooked your zucchini, the next step is placing it in a baking dish. You are now going to start adding those delicious layers on top.
- Now you start adding your marinara sauce. Remember, this is not lasagna so you are only making a single layer of zucchini as the base.
- Once you get your marinara sauce on the zucchini, you are going to add your mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. It looks like a mess but it will come out beautiful once all the cheese has melted during baking.
- After all of your ingredients are added to your zucchini, just place it in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes. You can also bake it for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
As you can see from the pictures above, this zucchini dish will start off looking a little messy when you are prepping and assembling everything.
Once this goes into the oven, the cheese that melts over everything will bring it all together and it ends up looking beautiful and delicious.
For me, that makes this meal a great one for entertaining or for a special dinner for family. Really, any dish that is served with hot bubbling cheese will always be a winner and popular with almost everyone.
Ideas of what to serve with this Italian zucchini, (if you want the whole Italian-style dinner)
- Spinach and Mushroom Salad. Now there is already a vegetable in this zucchini dish but a spinach salad in this instance acts like more of a salad than as an extra vegetable.
The mushrooms in this salad are delicious too because they are marinated ahead of time in lemon juice to soften them. This whole salad is really simple to assemble.
- My olive oil and parmesan bread. This one is really easy too! I take store-bought boule bread and jazz it up a bit to taste like the delicious bread served at Italian restaurants.
- Warm radicchio and arugula salad. If you don't often eat radicchio (that beautiful little purple lettuce ball you see at the grocery store) then this is a great introduction to it.
Radicchio is naturally bitter so this salad is actually roasted until it wilts and then topped with a sweet balsamic vinegar. It is really delicious!
- Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Olive oil and Garlic Pasta). This is such a great combo to serve with this zucchini recipe because you can serve the cheesy zucchini right on top of the pasta. It is one of my favorite dishes to make with this zucchini.
- Serve it alongside a simple pesto pasta. The bold basil flavors from the pesto go really well with this zucchini.
Italian Baked Zucchini is not just for Summer
For obvious reasons, this Italian zucchini is best made in the summer months when zucchini is abundant but I will make this all year long, even in the winter.
For me, this dish is a substitute for Chicken Parmesan and we would eat that all year long so why not zucchini. This zucchini recipe is quick to make and so delicious.
You can find zucchini all year in the grocery stores so you do not have to wait for summer. It is going to be healthier than the chicken version and less expensive.
I hope you give this a try and see just how delicious this dish is! If you are looking for ways to use zucchini or an easy dish, this is it.
This may become your new favorite quick weeknight meal.
Tips when working with zucchini
- Can I leave the skin on the zucchini? Yes, the skin of the zucchini does not need to be removed and contains extra nutrients and fiber making zucchini a healthy choice for meal planning.
- I have lots of zucchini, is it ok to eat a lot of it in a short time? Yes, zucchini is good for you! As long as you are working with cooked zucchini there is no "too much". This recipe is one of many that you can make to utilize this summer vegetable.
- Should zucchini be refrigerated? Yes, zucchini should be refrigerated after buying or harvesting from your garden.
- Do you need to salt zucchini before cooking it? No, zucchini is not bitter like eggplant that many people are familiar with salting before cooking with it. Just prepare your zucchini the same way you would other vegetables. No special treatment is needed.
- Can you freeze zucchini? Some people say you can and technically you can after cooking it but the texture will be very soft after thawing so I do not recommend it. You are better off making zucchini pancakes If you have an overabundance of zucchini you are trying to use up since it takes a lot to make them.
Here are some of our favorite desserts to end this simple Italian zucchini meal:
More Zucchini Recipes You May Like:
- Brown Butter Zucchini
- Spaghetti with Zucchini
- Zucchini Galette
- Mexican Zucchini Pudding
- Grilled Zucchini and Squash
- Zucchini with Tomatoes
More Easy Recipes Like This
If you love this Italian zucchini recipe, you may also like these easy dinners:
Italian Baked Zucchini
Tried the Recipe? We Would Love To Hear From You In The Comments Below!
- 5 small zucchini or 3 large ones
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella Try to use fresh if you can but shredded will work too
- 24 ounces of good quality marinara sauce homemade (see below for recipe) or jarred sauce
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper
- ¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan
- Clean and wash your zucchini5 small zucchini
- Pre-heat a grill pan or a grill to medium heat. If you do not have either than pre-heat a large heavy bottom skillet
- Cut your zucchini lengthwise into ½ inch strips
- Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil.3 tablespoon olive oil
- Sprinkle the zucchini with salt and pepper1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper
- Once your grill or pan is ready, add your zucchini and cook for about 3 minutes per side.
- Remove your zucchini from the pan and set aside
- Gently heat your marinara sauce on low heat
- Pre-heat your broiler on high heat
- Grab a large oven safe baking dish
- Scoop ½ cup of your marinara sauce into the baking dish and spread it out evenly24 ounces of good quality marinara sauce
- Next, Add your zucchini slices into the dish side by side but not overlapping. You may need 2 baking dishes if your zucchini are larger.
- Now take a tablespoon of your marinara and place on each slice of zucchini and spread it out. Keep doing this until all the zucchini has sauce
- Now cut your mozzarella into thin strips and place over the zucchini. Don't worry too much about neatness here since it all melts8 oz fresh mozzarella
- Next, sprinkle your freshly grated parmesan evenly over top of this¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan
- Once your zucchini are all dressed with sauce and cheese, place the zucchini under the broiler until the cheese melts and is bubbly and just turning brown (about 3-4 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and serve with a side of pasta and the remaining marinara sauce
If you are looking to make your own marinara sauce:Easy 30 minute Marinara
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here