Grilled Zucchini With Red Pepper Sauce

June 22, 2020 Updated: June 24, 2020

To avoid overcooked, watery zucchini, we cut them in half lengthwise and scored a crosshatch pattern into the cut sides with a sharp paring knife. We brushed the zucchini with olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper before charring it on the grill alongside a red bell pepper.

We then steamed the bell pepper and blended it with red wine vinegar, garlic, and toasted almonds to create a tangy sauce. For an herbaceous touch, we finished the sauce by folding in chopped basil right before serving.

Look for zucchini that are no more than 2 inches in diameter and weigh about 8 ounces each to ensure correct grilling times. Clean and oil the cooking grate thoroughly to prevent the zucchini from sticking. Note that we leave the bell pepper whole (minus the stem and core) and grill only two sides of it.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 zucchini (8 ounces each), trimmed
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using paring knife, cut 1/2-inch crosshatch pattern, about 1/4 inch deep, in flesh of each zucchini half, being careful not to cut through skin. Cut around stem of bell pepper and remove core and seeds. Brush flesh sides of zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brush bell pepper with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil.

For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-high.

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place zucchini, flesh side down, and bell pepper, skin side down, on cooking grate. Cook (covered if using gas) until vegetables are well charred on first side, 7 to 9 minutes, rearranging zucchini as needed to ensure even browning.

Flip vegetables and continue to cook (covered if using gas) until fork inserted into zucchini meets little resistance and bell pepper is charred on second side, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer zucchini to plate, flesh side up, as they finish cooking. Transfer bell pepper to small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Using spoon, remove skin from bell pepper (it’s OK if some small pieces of skin remain; do not rinse bell pepper to remove skin); cut into 1-inch pieces. Process bell pepper, almonds, vinegar, garlic, remaining 1/3 cup oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in blender until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed. Transfer sauce to bowl and stir in basil. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread half of sauce on platter. Arrange zucchini over sauce, flesh side up. Spoon remaining sauce over zucchini, as desired. Serve.

Recipe courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen