Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons

And the zucchini blogging continues…

This has been one of my go-to dishes this summer (or at least a few variations of it). Like many recipes, this started out more complicated – each time I made it, it became more and more simple. This, (my favorite version!) is all about the zucchini & summer squash… and it uses up lots of it. The concept is simple – toss squash with pesto, top it with panko, and then bake it until it’s lightly crisp on top.

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons

It starts with lots and lots of thinly sliced zucchini. This is a good time to break out your mandoline if you have one.

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons

I put a layer of plain tomato sauce on the bottom, and topped it all with panko and parmesan. Aside from the topping, it’s almost vegan and almost gluten free. (See recipe notes for a few adaptations). Bake it until it’s nice and crispy.

This is more of a side dish than a one-pan dinner, but it’s super tasty with some grilled fish or whatever sort of protein you like.

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini / @loveandlemons

crispy pesto baked zucchini
 
Author:
Serves: serves about 3 as a side
Ingredients
  • about 4 cups thinly sliced yellow & zucchini squash
  • ½ cup sliced yellow onion
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ½ cup plain canned tomato sauce
  • ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • drizzle of olive oil
pesto:
  • ¼ cup pine nuts or hemp seeds, toasted a little
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • juice & zest of 1 small lemon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • a huge handful of basil
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Thinly slice your squash (use a mandoline, if you have one) and set it aside on a towel so some of the moisture dries out while you prep everything else. Slice your onion and set aside.
  3. Make the pesto by pulsing the nuts, garlic, lemon, and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a food processor. Add basil, pulse again. Then drizzle in the olive oil and pulse again. You want a chunky pesto for this dish. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the zucchini, onions and enough pesto to coat.
  5. Brush a 9x12-inch baking dish with a little bit of olive oil, then coat the bottom with ½ cup tomato sauce. Add all of the squash/onion mixture and spread it into one even layer.
  6. Add panko, parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and a few red pepper flakes. Bake until the zucchini is tender (but not mushy) and the top is crispy and lightly browned - about 25 minutes. (You can turn your broiler on for the last few minutes to help the crispy topping along).
  7. Remove from oven and let it cool & set for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
Notes
Make this vegan by omitting the cheese on top.

Make this gluten free by omitting the panko (or get gluten free panko)

(note: omitting either will make the topping a bit less crispy)

crispy pesto baked zucchini
 
Author:
Serves: serves about 3 as a side
Ingredients
  • about 4 cups thinly sliced yellow & zucchini squash
  • ½ cup sliced yellow onion
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ½ cup plain canned tomato sauce
  • ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • drizzle of olive oil
pesto:
  • ¼ cup pine nuts or hemp seeds, toasted a little
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • juice & zest of 1 small lemon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • a huge handful of basil
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Thinly slice your squash (use a mandoline, if you have one) and set it aside on a towel so some of the moisture dries out while you prep everything else. Slice your onion and set aside.
  3. Make the pesto by pulsing the nuts, garlic, lemon, and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a food processor. Add basil, pulse again. Then drizzle in the olive oil and pulse again. You want a chunky pesto for this dish. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Brush a 9x12-inch baking dish with a little bit of olive oil, then coat the bottom with ½ cup tomato sauce. Add all of the pesto-ed squash and spread it into one even layer.
  5. Add panko, parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and a few red pepper flakes. Bake until the zucchini is tender (but not mushy) and the top is crispy and lightly browned - about 25 minutes. (You can turn your broiler on for the last few minutes to help the crispy topping along).
  6. Remove from oven and let it cool & set for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
Notes
Make this vegan by omitting the cheese on top.

Make this gluten free by omitting the panko (or get gluten free panko)

(note: omitting either will make the topping a bit less crispy)

38 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Bring on the zucchini! I love the crispy and baked parts of this, forces me to stray from my usual cutting and roasting!

  2. Eileen from hampiesandwiches.blogspot.com
    08.27.2014

    What a great way to eat up some of the massive late summer zucchini extravaganza! I love it. 🙂

  3. Elyse from lifewithoutlemons.com
    08.27.2014

    So simple and delcious! I have an abundance of courgettes (sorry just cant bring myself to call them zucchini yet!) Will certainly be trying this, thank you.

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com
      08.27.2014

      it’s ok, courgette is so much prettier 🙂

  4. I have zucchini coming out of my ears! I’m making this tonight, it looks great. Zucchini brownies for dessert too I guess (recipe on my site)!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com
      08.27.2014

      mmm, sounds delish – love chocolate and zucchini together!

  5. Jessica
    08.27.2014

    Thanks for posting! I cook for a family of 5 and only one of us is Vegan, so when it comes to finding family-friendly vegan recipes I love your site! This is reminiscent of pizza for my brothers and they love it 🙂
    I replaced the cheese with some nutritional yeast instead, but I also wanted to try it with some cashew cheese too!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com
      08.27.2014

      so glad you liked it! I love nutritional yeast, I’ll have to try that next time, thanks for the tip!

  6. Ella from youtube.com
    08.27.2014

    This sounds wonderful! I love pesto… I don’t think I’d be missing anything by vega-fying it 🙂 per the above comment, I might try with some nutritional yeast! Thanks for sharing!
    http://www.youtube.com/sparklesandsuch26

    • Elise
      09.16.2014

      I made it with nutritional yeast & it was as good as you’d think! Give it a try! I mixed the nutritional yeast in with the breadcrumbs.

  7. Bryan from thewanderinggourmand.com
    08.27.2014

    I need more understanding friends like you have. Mostly vegan and mostly gluten free would get me uninvited 🙂 Great recipe! Of course, I’m a gluten meat eater.

  8. This looks phenomenal! Simple, delicious, loads of veggies, and pesto – love it!

  9. Nicole B.
    08.27.2014

    I just had zucchini for the first time a few months back and became obsessed with it. My husband agrees that this really tasty. Pinned for future making!

  10. Meghan from oatgasm.blogspot.com
    08.28.2014

    This is almost a sort of inverted vegetable lasagna, simplified. I love it!

  11. Serena from theherbdiaries.com
    08.28.2014

    Yum that looks delicious – what great way to use courgettes. Can’t wait to try it! Gorgeous pictures as always

  12. Elizabeth from themotherhubbardscupboard.com
    08.28.2014

    I love new ways to use up Zucchini (Australian) as we always have an over abundance in the garden 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Liz x

  13. simple recipe with a lot of flavor.
    Love the zucchini series.. Cheers!

  14. Linda from doeskitchen.com
    08.29.2014

    Must make this – it looks delicious!

  15. sara from cupcakemuffin.blogspot.com
    08.30.2014

    This looks incredible! Wow – such a great dish!

  16. Paula
    09.03.2014

    Thank you so much for the recipe! But since it contains zucchini, my advice is to buy only veggies that are shorter than 8 inches because the longer ones can be bitter 🙁 A while ago I’ve noticed that some zucchinis are just more bitter than other and then I’ve found this explanation:
    http://www.listonic.com/protips/get/soeextwjle

  17. Sally
    09.03.2014

    What a great idea looks tasty 🙂

  18. Elise
    09.16.2014

    I made this last night & it did not disappoint! Even my boyfriend, who has a very pronounced distaste for zucchini & squash, went back for seconds. We were both blown away by the delicious layers of flavor & how healthy of a dish it is. I made it vegan & added cashews to the pesto instead of pine nuts then combined nutritional yeast with the breadcrumbs on top. We made half of the dish with breadcrumbs & half without – both were completely delectable.

    Thanks for a recipe that tastes as good as it looks! This would be a perfect potluck dish & I wish summer wasn’t almost over so I could keep making it!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com
      09.17.2014

      I’m so glad you liked it – thanks for coming back to let me know! I’ll have to try it with nutritional yeast & breadcrumbs next time 🙂

  19. Meg
    10.20.2014

    Just threw this is the oven! Just some notes on the recipe – you never mention to toss the squash in with the pesto, it’s just referred to as “pesto-ed squash”, which was confusing. Also, you didn’t say what to do with the onions, which I didn’t realize until I’d already put the panko layer on top. I tried to squeeze them in under some of the zucchini, but had to leave out most of them. I’m excited to have it tonight, just thought I’d pass along a few critiques!

  20. Geneviève
    11.10.2014

    Just tried it tonight, it was delicious! I never though zucchini could taste that good!

    Merci!

  21. Agne
    09.22.2015

    I just love zucchini. I just always wanted to try something new. (till now i’m just making zucchini pancakes, bake them in the pan with batter and sprinkle with garlic anr parsley and sometimes make omelet with them) thank you for this recipe. This was reaaaaally tasty! will try something else!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com
      09.22.2015

      so glad you liked this one too!!

  22. Shelley from shelleydell.com
    07.30.2016

    My son who is new to cooking made this today. It was pretty good. while we were cleaning up I noticed a pile of sliced onions on the counter! He took your suggestions to set the onions aside very seriously and did not add them to the zukes when he stirred in the pesto. I’m pretty sure that the onions would have been a great addition, you might want to edit the instructions for new and very literal cooks 😉

    • Hi Shelley, just fixed it – thank you for pointing that out!

  23. Sweta
    07.02.2017

    I just made this using stuff from the farmers market, and instead of making the pesto from scratch, I made the tomato sauce from scratch 🙂 It was really good!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.