Spanish Garlic Zucchini

(Calabacin al ajillo) with shaved parmesan or manchego 

a large tapas serving of Spanish garlic zucchinis

Spanish garlic zucchini (Calabacin al ajillo in Spanish) is the unsung hero for an easy tapas recipe or as a side dish. It’s a fantastically easy recipe that combines the full flavors of the grilled zucchini slices with lots of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and freshly chopped parsley. Parmesan or manchego cheese can be added but this can be omitted or substituted for vegan-friendly cheese. 

Garlic zucchini is quick to prepare with very few ingredients or equipment required. No matter if you enjoy it as a tasty tapas or serve it as a side dish with your favorite meat, veggie, or fish dishes, it’s a surefire winner! Just remember to accompany it with lots of fresh bread as the sauce encourages an enthusiastic mop up.


Tapas for 4

Ready in:

45 minutes

Skill level:

Very easy

Serve with:

Fresh bread or a main

ingredients for making Spanish garlic zucchinis are laid out on a white granite worktop

What you’ll need to make this recipe

The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity, and all you’ll need is a few simple and healthy ingredients from any grocery store or fresh food market. 


  • 1-2 large zucchinis (courgettes) around 10oz/300 grams each 
  • 6 garlic cloves 
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 
  • Sea Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Fresh parsley (half a handful is plenty)
  • Parmesan or manchego cheese (optional)

Equipment needed

  • Paper towel
  • Sharp knife and chopping board
  • Skillet or frying pan (12-inch/30cm)

Watch step-by-step recipe video

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a large tapas serving of Spanish garlic zucchinis

Spanish Garlic Zucchinis with Shaved Parmesan

Spanish garlic zucchini (Calabacin al ajillo in Spanish) is the unsung hero for easy veggie tapas or as a side dish. Ita fantastically easy recipe that combines the full flavors of the grilled zucchini slices with lots of olive oil, garlic, and freshly chopped parsley.
4.91 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
resting time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course appertizer, Side Dish, tapas, vegetarian
Cuisine Authentic Spanish recipe, spanish, vegan option, vegetarian
Servings 4 tapas or side dish
Calories 127 kcal


  • Paper towel
  • Sharp knife and chopping board
  • 12 inch (30cm) skillet or frying pan


  • 1-2 large zucchinis courgettes around 10oz/300 grams each
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons of Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley half a handful is plenty
  • Parmesan cheese optional


Step 1 - Prepare Zucchinis

  • First wash your zucchinis and pat dry with a towel. Next cut them into rounds approximately ½ inch/12.5 mm thick.
    1-2 large zucchinis
    sliced zucchini sits on a chopping board
  • Lay out on a plate and season generously with sea salt on both sides. Leave for 30 minutes.
    Sea Salt and pepper
    salted zucchini in a pan

Step 2 - Prepare the garlic and parsley sauce

  • Chop the parsley and finely crush the garlic until it is almost a paste. Add a teaspoon of oil to a large frying pan on high heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook until fragrant (around 1-2 minutes).
    6 garlic cloves, Fresh parsley
    a small glass ramikin sits on a wooden board filled with sliced garlic
  • Remove from the pan and add both to a bowl and slowly add around half of the remaining olive oil and mix well.
    3 tablespoons of Extra virgin olive oil
    fried garlic in a pan
  • Check consistency and season with some salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for use later.
    garlic and parsley sauce in a small bowl

Step 3 - Cook Zucchini rounds

  • Add zucchini rounds to a colander and rinse off excess salt. Pat dry with a towel.
  • On a medium-high heat, leave the pan to heat up for around 2-3 minutes. Once very hot, add the zucchini rounds whilst being careful not to crowd the pan. Be sure to keep the rounds in a single layer.
    salted zucchini in a pan
  • Add a little olive oil and turn once one side is golden (around 3 minutes). Repeat on the other side and cook for 3 minutes.
    fried zucchini in a pan
  • Remove from the pan and place onto a plate with some paper towel to remove any excess oil.

Step 4 - To serve

  • Add your cooked zucchini rounds to a serving plate and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Add a generous amount of the garlic and parsley sauce over the zucchini.
    a large tapas serving of Spanish garlic zucchinis
  • Top with some slices of shaved parmesan (optional) and serve.
    Parmesan cheese
    Some Spanish garlic zucchinis sit on a white plate topped with shavings of parmesan cheese



Serving: 175gCalories: 127kcalCarbohydrates: 7.1gProtein: 2.7gFat: 11.1gSaturated Fat: 1.7gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 30mgPotassium: 448mgFiber: 1.9gSugar: 2.9gCalcium: 45mgIron: 1mg
Keyword easy recipe, Easy tapas, easy to make, garlic, parmesan cheese, parsley, Spanish garlic zucchini, Spanish tapas, zucchini recipe

Cooking Tips and FAQs

Is Spanish garlic zucchinis easy to make?

It sure is. We would consider this recipe very easy to make and great for beginners in the kitchen. No special equipment is required and it only uses 4 easy to find ingredients. 

What does salt do to zucchini?

Zucchinis are mostly made up of water, so adding salt to them before cooking helps release a lot of the water so they don’t go too soggy whilst cooking. 

What flavors go well with zucchini?

  • Herbs & spices: oregano, rosemary, thyme, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper
  • Produce: Onion, carrot, eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, Feta cheese, Manchego cheese, parmesan cheese. 

How do you keep sauteed zucchini from getting mushy?

Use a virtually dry pan when cooking zucchini. Just add a splash of oil so it helps crisp up the edges. 

How long does this recipe take to make?

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Resting time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 45 minutes

Can this recipe be made in advance?

The garlic and parsley sauce can be made in advance, however, for best results, it is recommended to cook your zucchini rounds just before serving. 

Is this recipe vegan-friendly?

Almost! We’ve opted to use cheese as a garnish for this recipe but it can be easily omitted or subbed with a vegan cheese alternative, leaving a fantastic vegan-friendly tapas or side dish. We sometimes serve it without cheese when we’re wanting something lighter and it’s still delicious, don’t worry. All of the other ingredients are considered vegan-friendly. 

Can Spanish garlic zucchini be stored?

It sure can! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. 

How long does it take to cook garlic?

On a medium heat, your garlic should take around 1-2 minutes to cook. You’ll notice it become very fragrant and start to golden once it is done.

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