Spanish Garlic Zucchini
(Calabacin al ajillo) with shaved parmesan or manchego
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
Fresh bread or a main
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)
- Paper towel
- Sharp knife and chopping board
- Skillet or frying pan (12-inch/30cm)
Watch step-by-step recipe video
Vegan Spanish Tapas Recipes
Spanish Garlic Zucchinis with Shaved Parmesan
- 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
- Lay out on a plate and season generously with sea salt on both sides. Leave for 30 minutes.Sea Salt and pepper
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
- 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
- Check consistency and season with some salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for use later.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Top with some slices of shaved parmesan (optional) and serve.Parmesan cheese
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.
More Side Dishes
- Catalan roasted vegetables (escalivada Catalana) – an awesome vegan side dish with roasted eggplant, red pepper, and onion, plus some booster ingredients.
- Poor man’s potatoes – potatoes roasted with red pepper, onion, garlic, rosemary, and paprika, served with lemon wedges on the side.
- Seasonal roasted veggies with caramelized onions and beets – this vegetable medley consists of roasted veg that are roasted with vinegar and sherry to make them pop.
- 5-Minute tomato salad – this dead simple salad recipe comes with a twist…ground fennel seeds, which give it an even fresher flavor and aroma.
- Roasted vegetable stacks – these eye-catching stacks are sliced roasted potatoes topped with more roast veg, rosemary, and garlic, with a little balsamic glaze (optional).
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