Move Over, Onions! Caramelized Zucchini Is Even Sweeter

published Jul 17, 2023
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Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

We’re currently smack-dab in the height of zucchini season, which means we’re constantly looking for new ways to cook with it, like this zucchini pasta and these zucchini tots. The more a recipe uses, the better — at this point in the summer, farmers markets and home gardeners are swimming in it! Although common uses include grating it for bread or turning it into noodles, this summer I discovered a better way to cook a lot of zucchini at once.

Despite what you’ve been told about not over-cooking zucchini, caramelizing zucchini cooks it down to its most tender form. It’s sweeter, more savory, and more delectable than any other method, and I guarantee you won’t grow tired of eating it this way. Forget onions — this summer, caramelized zucchini is upgrading everything we’re cooking. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

How to Caramelize Zucchini

Like onions, caramelizing zucchini is equally about how you prepare the zucchini and how you cook it. You can cook 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of zucchini at a time in a large skillet. You want to cut the zucchini into thick ribbons, so cut each zucchini in half crosswise, then halve lengthwise and thinly slice lengthwise into ribbons. Heat a combination of butter and olive oil, about 3 tablespoons total, in a large skillet and add the zucchini and sprinkle with salt. Then cook the zucchini, stirring occasionally, until deeply caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes.

The zucchini will release all its juices, concentrating its sweet flavor, turning its pale interior a deep caramel color, and giving it a silky texture. Once cooked, there are tons of ways to use caramelized zucchini in any number of summer meals.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

How to Use Caramelized Zucchini

Caramelized zucchini is ideal for summer pies: Use them to fill phyllo pies or top pizza pies. Fold them into scrambled eggs and omelets for breakfast. Bury them in cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches and quesadillas. Fold them into yogurt or your favorite caramelized onion-inspired dip. I even love them cold from the fridge on sandwiches or butter toast. Don’t let summer pass before giving this technique a try.

This post originally published on The Kitchn. Read it there: Move Over, Onions! Caramelized Zucchini Is Even Sweeter.