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Grilled Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette

Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette
Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette

Are you knee deep in zucchini? If you have a garden, it’s that time of year. I learned a long time ago that unless I want to feed an army, buying a six pack of zucchini seedlings is a mistake and will result in friends and neighbors running the other way when they see you in the street with an armful of large green squash. Leaving said squash on doorsteps in the dead of night is another option of course, but may not endear you to your neighbors.

Still, every year we grow one plant and that’s more than enough for us to eat, and to share with family and friends. The growing season is early here; we planted in April and were harvesting the first zucchini in early June. It was so hot in July the plant almost gave up, but this week it seemed to regenerate, giving us four more zucchini!

Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette

This dish is inspired by last year’s trip to Puglia and Basilicata, regions in the heel of Italy’s boot. We ate at a restaurant called il Cantuccio in Matera, a town known for its cave dwellings. In fact, our hotel was built into a series of caves in the towns outer walls which was all kinds of awesome, check it out. In that meal at il Cantuccio, the zucchini was sliced into small rounds, blanched, and then marinated with apple cider vinegar and toasted fennel seeds. You can see the original here.

Since returning home, I’ve made versions of this several times, both with the zucchini blanched and with it grilled, and while both are delicious, grilled wins out for me every time. I love the bit of char cooking on the grill gives to the sweetness of the zucchini, plus I like the ease of cooking on the grill (or even grill pan which I often use instead). Also, if you’re like me and sometimes usually forget to pick the zucchini when they are small, grilling is an easy way to cook the cut slices.

If you’re looking for other zucchini ideas, check out the recipes for Stuffed Zucchini with Italian Sausage, Grilled Zucchini and Eggplant Parmesan, or Zucchini and Arugula Salad with Lemon Anchovy Dressing. I’ll be making this dish tonight to bring to a friend’s house for dinner.

What are your favorite things to do with an abundance of zucchini? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Grilled Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette

Grilled Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: fennel seed, side, zucchini
Servings: 6 as a side


For the Grilled Zucchini:

  • 1.5-2 pounds zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for grilling
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette:

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • .5 tsp kosher salt
  • .25 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley chopped


To grill the zucchini:

  • Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4" strips, about 4" to 6" long. Brush the pieces with the olive oil, or toss them in a large bowl.
  • Place the pieces of zucchini on the hot grill at an angle and cook for about 2 minutes. Rotate the pieces 90 degrees and cook for 1 more minute. Flip each piece and repeat, cooking at an angle to get grill marks. Season with salt and pepper and lay out on a serving platter.

For the toasted fennel seed viniagrette:

  • Heat a small saute pan and add the fennel seeds. Cook the seeds, tossing or stirring the the pan until they begin to color and become fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the seeds from a hot pan to a bowl to stop them from cooking.
  • Add the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to the bowl and whisk all ingredients together.
  • Pour the vinaigrette evenly over the grilled zucchini and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette


  • Angrboda

    Oh lovely! I shall try this.

    We have four plants, so we’re getting a fair bit of them. Mind you, Husband being vegetarian we also eat more of them than the average person (and it’s not really the cheapest vegetable in the supermarket…). We started out with five plants, but one of them died under mysterious circumstances. Theory is that something ate the roots. The others are healthy, though, and I’ve been looking into whether or not I could freeze them for later if we can’t keep up with eating. So far as I can tell it should be all right so long as they’re used in something where they’re supposed to be soft. We haven’t got to that stage yet, but I can always use more ideas for how to use them! We are definitely in the realm of Free Food now though.

      • Angrboda

        That’s pretty much what I found. Actually, initially I found several answers all of which wildly different from others. A said dice, blanch, freeze. B said dice, fry briefly, freeze. C said dice, under no circumstances cook in any way, freeze. D said don’t freeze, it doesn’t work. In the end I decided I’d go for C, partly because it’s easier and I’m lazy and partly because I don’t know about the professional status of A,B and D, but C’s bio said she was a chef, so I figured she must know what she was doing. 🙂

        Given that you are also one and seemingly in the A camp, how much of a difference do you think blanching vs not blanching would make?

          • Angrboda

            We might have. All four of them seem to be in a growing fase at the moment. Husband thinks the plants are suffering a bit from being too close together, so the actual plants aren’t getting very large. They do seem to make two or three courgettes at a time each, but they’re fairly synchronised. I think there’s one down there now which is reaching eating size. There were also a fair number of them that had to be cut away, because they started out fine and then they turned yellow and shrivelly. Looked like something had been nibbling on them. I’m torn between being pleased that we can support wildlife in the garden that way (except if it’s slugs) and annoyed that it means less food for us. :p

            If I end up freezing some I’ll try to remember to do a batch cooked and one uncooked and tell you if I can tell a difference. 🙂 (I might forget, though)

  • Ashiffman

    Hey, this is first time I have seen this blog.I read the blogs I get
    religiously, and without them would have stopped cooking a couple of
    years ago. They are important to my life. It never occurred to me to
    comment….and you are right people are communicating less….I am
    so sorry you had to post this…..but i fear others have done the same.

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