The Best Zucchini Parmesan

updated Jun 4, 2023
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Zucchini Parmesan

This summery riff on classic eggplant Parmesan celebrates the custardy goodness of tender zucchini.

Serves4 to 6

Prep1 hour

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes

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Zucchini parmesan in blue baking dish with one square piece being sliced out with lasagna server
Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

This summery riff on classic eggplant Parmesan celebrates the custardy goodness of tender zucchini. It’s surprisingly light, requires just a handful of ingredients to make, and there’s plenty of ways to riff and embellish. The fried zucchini then gets layered into the baking dish with marinara and a mix of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Here’s how to prepare the best zucchini Parmesan.

How to Prepare Zucchini Parmesan

You’ll start by cutting the zucchini into planks, then salting it and letting it sit on paper towels. This step pulls the excess moisture out of the zucchini, which prevents a soggy casserole.

When it’s time to fry, you’ll use the standard breading procedure to coat the zucchini (flour, egg, breadcrumbs), then shallow-fry until deeply golden-brown and crisp. Seasoned breadcrumbs impart the most flavor with the least amount of ingredients, but feel free to use regular breadcrumbs instead — just add dried spices to it. If you only have panko, pulse them in a food processor with the Parmesan into finer breadcrumbs.

The fried zucchini then gets layered into the baking dish with marinara and a mix of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. This recipe calls for jarred sauce for ease, but you can also make your own. And while I used low-moisture mozzarella, you could absolutely top off the dish with fresh mozzarella, which would melt nicely and look great, too. Additionally, feel free to add fresh herbs to your sauce, and use them to garnish when serving.

Zucchini Parmesan

This summery riff on classic eggplant Parmesan celebrates the custardy goodness of tender zucchini.

Prep time 1 hour

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds

    medium zucchini

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 6 ounces

    Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 packed cups grated)

  • 12 ounces

    low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 3 cups shredded)

  • 2 cups

    seasoned, fine breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 4

    large eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 3/4 cups

    olive oil, divided

  • 3 1/4 cups

    marinara sauce (from a 32-ounce jar)

Instructions

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a layer of paper towels. Trim and slice 2 1/2 pounds zucchini lengthwise into 1/2-inch wide planks. Place on the paper towels in a single layer. Sprinkle the zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, then cover with another layer of paper towels.

  2. Finely grate 6 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 packed cups). Place 1 cup in a medium bowl. Shred 12 ounces mozzarella cheese (about 3 cups), add to the 1 cup Parmesan, and toss to combine.

  3. Transfer the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan to a wide, medium bowl. Add 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and stir with a fork until well combined. Whisk 4 large eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt together in a second wide, medium bowl. Whisk 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt together in a third wide, medium bowl.

  4. Pat the zucchini planks dry with more paper towels and stack on a large plate. Wipe the baking sheet dry and fit with a wire rack. Working with 1 zucchini plank at a time, coat it into the flour mixture, then tap off any excess flour. Dip in the egg mixture. Let the excess egg drip back off into the bowl, then dip the zucchini in the breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Place on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining pieces, placing them in a single layer (they can touch).

  5. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425ºF. Meanwhile, fry the zucchini.

  6. Line a second baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 1 cup of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Test the oil heat by sprinkling some breadcrumbs in it: If it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready. Working in batches, add 3 to 4 breaded zucchini to the pan and fry until deep golden brown, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, adding more olive oil to the pan as needed so that the zucchini are covered halfway in oil.

  7. Spread 3/4 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish (such as an 8 or 9-inch square). Top with 1 layer of zucchini planks, cutting the planks to fit in the gaps as needed. Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the planks. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese mixture. Top with one more layer of zucchini. Spread the remaining 1 1/2 cups marinara over the zucchini, then top with the remaining cheese mixture.

  8. Coat a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the baking dish with olive oil. Place the foil oil-side down on the baking dish and tightly cover. Bake until the zucchini is tender when poked with a paring knife or cake tester, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover and turn the oven to broil. Broil until the cheese on top is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before slicing.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.