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.