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Delicious Italian-style fried zucchini to enjoy as a salad or healthy snack. Low-carb and gluten-free.
Frying zucchini in olive oil is one the best things you can do to the humble squash.
It transforms a somewhat bland, everyday vegetable into something special — and highly snack-able.
Although we think of them as a full-blown summer kind of vegetable, I’m not afraid to take advantage of cute little zucchini grown in far more southern climates than the one I live in.
That means we can enjoy this salad all year long!
Zucchini for fried zucchini salad
I’ve been buying itty-bitty zucchini at Trader Joe’s lately, and after roasting some of them in a big batch of assorted veggies to go on top of Parmesan Polenta, this salad has since become a major craving.
My preference are the smallest zucchini, not only for this recipe but in general.
When zucchini matures and swells to more than 1 1/2-inches in diameter, the flesh will likely have more seeds.
That means the flesh can become waterlogged and get more soggy when cooked.
I don’t know about you, but to me mushy zucchini is totally unappealing.
A squeeze of lemon in the salad gives this little bowl a spark of welcome acid and freshness.
It will convince you that the Mediterranean sun is shining down on you, even if only in your imagination 🙂
Zucchini fritti are delicious and dare I say healthy? (Yes, I did).
To make these fried zucchini, I give them a light coating of rice flour, which I find more delicate than wheat flour (and also happens to make this recipe gluten-free).
Sizzling the coated zucchini slices in hot olive oil gives the otherwise neutral zucchini a taste almost like tempura-battered zucchini.
You could easily eat these fried zucchini all by themselves as a crunchy snack, but making a salad with the hot, crisp zucchini turns this into a simple meal.
Italian Fried Zucchini Salad
- ¾ pound (340 g) baby or small zucchini, between ½ – 1 inch in diameter
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup (40 g) brown or white rice flour
- 3 tablespoons (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ lemon, cut into wedges
- ¼ cup (33 g) toasted pine nuts or almonds, roughly chopped
- ½ cup (15 g) Italian parsley leaves
- 1 2-ounce (50 g) chunk of Parmesan cheese for shaving over the salad
- Slice the zucchini into coins about 1/2-inch wide. Put them in a bowl with the onion and toss with the rice flour to coat evenly.
- Heat a 12-inch (preferably non-stick) skillet over medium high heat until hot. Pour in the olive oil and heat until it just begins to shimmer.
- Put the zucchini-onion mixture and lemon slices into the pan, cut side down. They should sizzle right away, otherwise the pan isn't hot enough yet. Season with a generous pinch of salt and cook undisturbed for 2 or 3 minutes, until the zucchini turn dark golden brown on one side.
- Flip the zucchini over, either by shaking the pan or with a wooden spatula, to cook the other side. Add the pine nuts to the pan and sprinkle with a little more salt.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Squeeze the juice from the fried lemons over the salad and serve right away topped with shaved cheese.
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.