Cheap Eats: Zucchini with Balsamic Vinegar and Parmesan Cheese

Here at The Billfold, we love cheap and easy recipes, and a few of you have been emailing me your favorites (please continue to do so!). Here’s a cheap and easy recipe for zucchini from reader Brigitta Patterson.


• 1 green zucchini (normal zucchini)

• 1 golden zucchini

• Some olive oil

• A dash of ground pepper

• Balsamic vinegar

• Parmesan cheese

• Some basil (I like the kind that comes in little toothpaste tubes that you can keep in the freezer. It’s not as good as fresh but miles better than dried. Lasts longer & is cheaper than the fresh. However, if you are inclined to use fresh or dried, I’m not one to stop you. They have a similar thing at Trader Joes where they are frozen into little cubes. 

What to do

1. Slice up your zucchinis, both of them, so that each slice is about the thickness of two quarters. NO MORE, as uniformity is key. If it’s thinner, that’s fine, because the thin ones are extra delicious. Look how pretty they are, emerald and yellow.

2. Heat up your splash of olive oil on the stove in a shallow saucepan. Use medium heat. If you’re fancy (and you are), add in some basil and fresh ground pepper. The oil will make a nice *tsssssss* sound.

3. Throw in the sliced zucchini. Wow, look at that! Now the oil will make a *khhhhhh* sound, ready for action to happen!

4. Stir this for a little while (2 minutes) and then pour in some balsamic vinegar. No, that’s too much. Let that sizzle around, stirring the zucchini into the vinegar so that it soaks it up.

5. While stirring, sprinkle on the parmesan cheese. Do you love cheese? Who doesn’t? Being poor, I only have the grated kind that comes in a green cardboard cylinder. If you’re fancy and have the shaved kind, this will probably taste better. I use about three shakes of the green cylinder (and that’s ok, because I secretly love the texture of not-fancy parmesan cheese.

6. Keep stirring, for another minute or so. Maybe throw on some more basil. The cheese will start to meltify and that’s good.

7. Ok, you’re done! You don’t want the zucchini to be too soft and weird.

This whole thing should take about 10 minutes, tops, with about 6 minutes for cooking. If you share, this is enough as a side for two people, but I don’t, so I eat it ALL. YUM. Usually with noodles and tomato sauce on the side. Or a fried egg. But I would eat this by itself, all the time if I could.


Photo: Flickr/snickclunk


8 Comments / Post A Comment

This looks great – I was looking for more vegetables to add to my meals that require little fuss. (Love zucchini and summer squash too! So springy.)

editrickster (#279)

Ahh this is my recipe! It’s so delicious!

Your tastes in zucchini may differ from mine, but if you keep frying zucchini past the soft-and-weird stage, they caramelize and crisp back up. It is magical.

editrickster (#279)

@wallsdonotfall I will try this next time I make them. The farmers market by my work returned today so hopefully there will be zucchini soon!

@editrickster If you like quinoa (and yes, it’s pricier than this column would ideally have it), take a look at this recipe, which combines pan-fried zucchini with tomatoes, cucumber, spicy corn, and a garlicky chimichurri. Or substitute corn cakes! But he says to cook the zucchini until it’s covered in brown spots, which is the point of Maximum Deliciousness.

selenana (#673)

@wallsdonotfall Bulk quinoa isn’t that expensive – you can find it for like $2-3/lb. So a half cup serving would be about 30-40c. Seems pretty good for the nutritional value.

boysplz (#56)

This looks good! I have a zucchini from my CSA delivery that I don’t really know what to do with so I’ll probably try this.

I saw a similar recipe posted to budget bytes where she shaved the zucchini lengthwise using a vegetable peeler. This would help keep the slices of uniform thickness if that’s a challenge for some people (it’s a challenge for me sometimes).

Tea'nWineBeMine (#2,441)

My first time out the gate with this recipe tonight…sorta didn’t go well. Also, I was missing some key ingredients, so I subbed regular vinegar and oil for balsamic vinegar and motz for parm (cheese, any cheese, is awesome, though). Anyway, I poured too much oil in, forgot to salt, and the veggies ended up soft and just in a pool of oil that could only be salvaged as I topped more cheese on the dish. Grrr. I have no idea how to cook vegetables to that beautiful crispy stage–only to the oily and mushy, “well I cooked this already, guess I HAVE to eat it” stage. :(

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