Delicious Italian Style Zucchini and Onion Side Dish

A truly delectable medley of zucchini, onion, and herbs. A light and satisfying dish to serve with any meal. The zucchini and onion are slightly sautéed and then steamed at the end to achieve the perfect taste and texture. You can serve this dish plain or make it a meal and serve it with some fresh ricotta on the side as seen in the other photos. A little sprinkle of basil and parsley a drizzle of olive oil and this dish is gold. If you are tired of boring veggie side dishes let this become your new favorite! I’ve made it for countless friends and it is a dish that is sure to satisfy all taste buds (even the picky ones). Don’t delay and share this recipe with your friends and family.

Made with Amore,

Elena

zucchini and onion in a pan with a wooden spoon

More than Zucchini. A Story about this dish…

A simple dish that takes me home and sends me in a whirl of nostalgia just by saying the name, “zucchini e cipolle”. The smell alone drives me back to my childhood faster than the DeLorean DMC-12. 

Here I am platting my favorite veggie dish of all time. You’ll be surprised to know it’s simply zucchini and onion prepared in olive oil delicately sautéed and slightly steamed to achieve a sensational texture and flavor. I wonder how simplicity drives deliciousness out of this world. 

I begged my nonna to make this iconic dish at least 3 times a week when I lived  with her during the summer months. Every single time I make this I think of her. 

Continued …

platted final dish with a fork and ricotta cheese as an accompaniment

She’s with me in the kitchen. 

I hear her voice. 

I see her hands. 

She guides me.  

She reminds me of the tips and tricks even after all the years I’ve made it on my own. 

Sometimes I make this dish just to feel close to her again. “Brava Elena”, she would say, “hai fatto bene” (good job Elena, you did well). 

Interesting how zucchini and onions engrain a memory pathway in the brain to the point of feeling connected to someone who is no longer physically with me on earth? A precious recipe links me directly  to my dear nonna Laura. I don’t need a Back to the Future car when the power of a recipe connects me to past and future generations. 

This is why we must cook, bake, create, share, and love in the kitchen again. It’s more than food. It’s memories for life and the lives to come..

final dish prepared in a pan

Simplicity

The key to Italian dishes is simple ingredients, fresh flavors, and good olive oil. The combination of these elements goes a long way to create a flavorful dish without overcomplicating the matter. With this in mind, it makes the recipes approachable, delicious, and loved by all. The sweet onion and fresh zucchini with a little basil and parsley is all you need for this show stopping side.

Italian Zucchini Variety

Italian zucchini is different from the regular green zucchini found in most U.S stores, in that the later is large, thick and has a uniform dark green color. The Italian zucchini is smaller, a bit rounder with a chubbier appearance, and has a lighter green color that is randomly speckled with a cream color and is milder and sweeter in flavor. The taste is superior and so sweet! These are hard to find in many regular grocery stores. For this recipe I used the regular dark green variety you can find in any store in the U.S. If you happened to see them BUY the Italian variety. They are sometimes called “Mexican zucchini”.

Favorite Tool to get the zucchini slices thin and uniform: Adjust-A-Slice Mandoline

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fresh onions and zucchini with a bowl of ricotta to show the ingredients in this dish

Optional: Fresh ricotta as a side to add creaminess and make it a complete dish if not serving with anything else.

hands and a wooden spoon platting the final dish on a plate

A minute of extra time spent platting to make the dish look appetizing is something I love to do when I have extra time.

fresh onions and zucchini with a bowl of ricotta to show the ingredients in this dish

More Recipe for YOUR Table

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Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!)

Print
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zucchini and onion in a pan with a wooden spoon

Sautéed Zucchini and Onion (Italian Recipe)

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

A truly delectable medley of zucchini, onion, and herbs. A light and satisfying dish to serve with any meal. The zucchini and onion are slightly sautéed and then steamed with the lid at the last moment to achieve the perfect taste and texture. A little sprinkle of basil and parsley a drizzle of olive oil and this dish is gold. You can serve it plain or make it meal and serve with some fresh ricotta on the side.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 medium zucchini (Italian or U.S variety), thinly sliced (here is the Mandoline I like to use)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced or thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons good quality olive oil 
  • 1/2 Cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped 
  • 8 leaves fresh basil, torn by hand 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 

Instructions

  1.  Heat a large sauté pan to medium heat. Add oil. Add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft and slightly brown. Add zucchini and keep sautéing for about 10-12 minutes until they are all slightly brown. Stir constantly. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add a drizzle more olive oil in the pan. Cover with lid and turn to low heat. Let simmer an additional 20 minutes until the zucchini are very soft (not mushy). Add the fresh basil and parsley. Stir to combine and take off heat. Add additional salt if desired.  Leave covered until ready to serve. 
  3. Serve with fresh ricotta cheese or as a side dish to accompany any meal. 

Notes

Great tossed with pasta as well. 

Keywords: zucchini, onion, dinner, side dish, savory, Italian, vegetarian recipe, ricotta cheese