If you’ve been by a farmers market in the past week, you’ve no doubt seen the big, beautiful zucchinis that have come into season.
And if you, like me, couldn’t resist and ended up with a lot of them, I’ve got a great dish for you to try. My original intention was to use them to make a pad thai with zoodles, but when I saw this image of hasselback zucchini fly by while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, my plans changed.
It looks involved, but this can be a really quick and easy dish to prepare. Beyond the cooking time, all you need is a zucchini and a few minutes for slicing. The word “hasselback” refers to the particular technique of closely cutting the food before roasting (and should not be confused with the Hasselbecks of either talk show or football fame). According to April Bloomfield in “A Girl and Her Greens,” the cooking method got its name because it was supposedly invented at a restaurant in Stockholm called Hasselbacken; potatoes cooked in that style became known as hasselback potatoes (and are also sometimes called accordion potatoes). I’m not sure how many other versions of the technique have been attempted (I found bread and onions in a quick search), but hasselback zucchini is one popular variation.
I’m not a huge fan of white potatoes (which can have a high glycemic load), so I jumped at the idea of a zucchini version; they look just as irresistible as the potato variety but are more nutritious. The hasselback technique is simply cutting slices only partway through the zucchini so that the pieces stay together. As it roasts, the zucchini gets hot and creamy at the base and crisp and savory on the thin edges.
I looked at a lot of recipes for hasselback zucchini, and a common suggestion is to put chopsticks on either side of the zucchini to ensure that you don’t inadvertently cut all the way through. Pretty much everyone calls for roasting the zucchini at 425 for 45 to 60 minutes. Beyond that, all you need is some butter or oil and seasoning, but you could make it much fancier if you’re in the mood.
I was inspired by the recipe that I linked to above, but I didn’t have time for the fussy details. So I took some shortcuts along the way. After heating the oven (more on that in a moment), I sliced two zucchini-the thinner the better-most of the way through and put them on a jelly roll pan that I’d lined with parchment paper. Any kind of baking dish with sides would have been fine, and ultimately, lining seemed rather unnecessary. I melted 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter and mixed in some minced garlic from a jar I had in the refrigerator, along with some Italian seasoning, and drizzled that over the zucchini.
It was at this point that I discovered my gas oven doesn’t work anymore. No effort to revive it worked, so I had to give up on the oven (happily, it’s summer, so it won’t be a hardship to live without it for a bit). Anyway, here is where I found that the toaster oven does a fine job of roasting vegetables. I let the zucchini cook there for an hour and gave it a few minutes to cool before sprinkling it with some grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. The result was delicious.
I kept it simple this time, but I can imagine some possible variations that would be worth the effort when I make this dish again. I used minced garlic, but I bet sliced garlic cloves would have helped hold the ridges of zucchini apart for extra crispiness while roasting, while also adding fresh garlicky flavor. Some of the recipes I consulted used oil instead of butter or a combination of the two, and many suggest other seasonings (fresh thyme, basil or chili flakes), additional flavors (like putting slivers of onion between the zucchini slices or squeezing a wedge of lemon over it) or alternatives cheeses such as feta. I can’t wait to try another version!
Alice O’Dea has lived in Chattanooga for over 20 years, but was raised among the mucks and dairy farms in rural western New York. She didn’t really learn to cook until midlife. When she’s not puttering around in the kitchen, she enjoys running, cycling, traveling, photography and trying to get food to grow in the backyard of her Highland Park home. You can email her with questions, suggestions or comments at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.