Zucchini Butter Toasts with Hazelnuts and Herbs

published Aug 16, 2021
Mediterranean Monday
Zucchini Butter Toasts with Hazelnuts and Herbs

This satisfying, summery dish also just to happens to be vegan. It makes for the perfect lunch or light dinner.

Serves4

Prep30 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 28 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Zucchini butter toasts plated.
Credit: Photo: Kristin Teig / Food Stylist: Catrine Kelty

Zucchini is the star of these satisfying, summery toasts. Grate it, then cook it down until it caramelizes and melts into something so luscious that it’s practically buttery. Slather it onto thick, crusty bread, pile on toasted hazelnuts and fresh basil, and you have the perfect lunch or light dinner for right now.

Credit: Photo: Kristin Teig / Food Stylist: Catrine Kelty

An Ingenious Way to Make Use of Too Much Zucchini

Whether you have a vegetable garden, are a frequent visitor to your local farmers market, or you’re part of a CSA, you’re probably working your way through a lot of zucchini. It’s practically a mid-summer right of passage to be overloaded with the summer squash. My very favorite way to get a handle on the abundance is to make zucchini butter.

Zucchini butter is one of the very first recipes I discovered on Kitchn, well before I even became an editor here. It comes from a Los Angeles-based caterer Jennie Cook, who shared the recipe with our site. The concept is simple: Grate lots of zucchini and sauté it slowly over moderate heat so that it caramelizes and cooks down, creating something deeply flavored and jammy. I’ve made zucchini butter again and again over the years, tinkering with it to make it my own. I like to add both shallot and garlic, and opt for cooking the zucchini in olive oil rather than butter because I like the grassy note it provides. Doing so also makes it naturally vegan and dairy-free, although you wouldn’t suspect it given its richness.

Get the original recipe: Easy and Delicious Zucchini Butter

Credit: Photo: Kristin Teig / Food Stylist: Catrine Kelty

My Favorite Way to Enjoy Zucchini Butter

There are endless ways to enjoy zucchini butter. You can toss it with pasta, fold it into scrambled eggs, or spoon it on grilled fish or chicken. My favorite use, however, is the simplest: Slather it onto good bread. Finish things off with a big squeeze of lemon juice and you have a winning summer snack; or, turn it into a meal by adding a couple more components. Toasted hazelnuts add crunch and a bit of protein, fresh basil keeps the toasts rooted in seasonal brightness, and a pinch of earthy Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes) makes each bite interesting.

Welcome to Mediterranean MondaySheela Prakash‘s monthly column of Mediterranean recipes. Here, Sheela will teach you all about the Mediterranean diet’s feel-good way of cooking and eating, and share vibrant, easygoing recipes. Cook with us using #mediterraneanmonday, and for even more great recipes, order a copy of Sheela’s cookbook Mediterranean Every Day.

Zucchini Butter Toasts with Hazelnuts and Herbs

This satisfying, summery dish also just to happens to be vegan. It makes for the perfect lunch or light dinner.

Prep time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 28 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds

    zucchini (about 4 medium)

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    raw hazelnuts

  • 1

    large shallot

  • 1 small clove

    garlic

  • 1

    small lemon

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 thick slices

    sourdough or other crusty bread

  • Handful small fresh basil or mint leaves, for serving

  • Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes, for serving

  • Flaky salt, for serving

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Grate 2 pounds zucchini on the large holes of a box grater (about 6 cups) into a colander set over a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt and toss to combine. Set aside to drain for 15 minutes.

  3. Spread 1/4 cup raw hazelnuts out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and golden-brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, dice 1 large shallot. Smash and peel 1 small garlic clove. Finely grate the zest of 1 small lemon. Halve the zested lemon and reserve.

  5. When the zucchini is ready, press on it with your hands or a wooden spoon to push out some of the liquid. Transfer the zucchini to a clean kitchen towel, wrap it up, and squeeze out as much water as you can to get it as dry as possible. You should have about 3 cups.

  6. Wrap the toasted hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove as much of the skins as possible (don’t worry about any skin that doesn’t easily come off). Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and coarsely chop.

  7. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large, high-sided sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, under softened and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini cooks down, caramelizes, and softens considerably, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat if the zucchini starts to burn. The mixture should be jammy and spreadable. Remove from the heat.

  8. Toast 4 thick bread slices, then rub one side of each slice with the garlic clove. Divide the zucchini butter between the garlic-rubbed toast and spread out evenly in a thick layer. Garnish with the hazelnuts, fresh basil or mint leaves, and a pinch or two of Aleppo pepper and flaky salt. Squeeze the juice of the reserved lemon halves over the toasts and serve.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The zucchini butter can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container. Let it come to room temperature, or rewarm it briefly in a skillet on the stovetop or in the microwave before spreading on the toasts.