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This Zucchini Parmesan recipe is a delicious way to use up zucchini. Tender pasta is layered with melted cheese, crispy breadcrumb-coated zucchini & homemade pasta sauce. We love this dish!
There’s a time in the summer season when the garden just comes alive. I’ll look out the window one morning, and BAM. Veggies on the vines. Veggies on the ground. Veggies popping up in patches right left and center. Veggies everywhere! Today we’re turning that bounty into zucchini parmesan. This recipe is like summer sunshine in casserole form. It’s so good.
Why You’ll Love This Zucchini Parmesan Recipe
- Easy. There are a few steps required to make this recipe, but all of them are fairly straightforward. Bread and bake your zucchini slices, assemble your pasta dish, then bake!
- Fancy as you want it to be. If you want to be extra you can use homemade pasta sauce. However, your favorite jarred pasta sauce also works. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure recipe. 🙂
- Supremely satisfying. The meat eaters and vegetarians in my family both love this recipe. The carnivores don’t miss the meat they’re used to in a classic chicken parm, and the vegetarians love that they can enjoy some of those traditional Italian flavors sans meat. Everyone’s happy & my job is done.
What You’ll Need
Here’s a quick look at what you’ll need to make this zucchini parmesan recipe. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.
- Pasta sauce – Thanks to my Italian husband, we take our homemade pasta sauce very seriously in this house. If your family is a little more lenient, go ahead and use your preferred store-bought sauce.
- Zucchini – You’ll need two large zucchini, or three medium zucchini, sliced into rounds.
- Eggs – This recipe uses four eggs. The fresher, the better.
- Bread crumbs – For the breading, I prefer to use plain panko breadcrumbs and season them myself. You can also use seasoned breadcrumbs, but you may want to omit or adjust the seasoning that comes next in that case.
- Seasoning – This recipe uses a blend of dried oregano, dried basil, salt & pepper for seasoning the breadcrumb coating.
- Cheese – Zucchini parmesan calls for grated parmesan cheese (of course) and shredded mozzarella. I recommend grating your cheeses fresh!
- Spaghetti – Standard boxed spaghetti works fine. You’ll need to cook the pasta al dente per the instructions on the package.
- Unsalted butter
Do You Peel Zucchini Before Baking?
Unless your zucchini are particularly large or have tougher skins, there’s no need to peel them before you bake them. In fact, it’s even better if you don’t! Veggie skins are a great source of nutrients, so I always leave them on whenever possible.
How to Make Zucchini Parmesan
- Prep your tools. Preheat your oven to 420ºF and lay some parchment paper over a baking sheet, and set this aside while you assemble the ingredients.
- Slice the zucchini. Cut the ends off of your zucchini and slice it into rounds.
- Make the panko mix and egg coating. In one bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs and seasonings, along with one cup of the grated parmesan. In second bowl, beat the eggs for the egg wash.
- Prep the zucchini. Working one at a time, dip the zucchini slices first into the eggs, then into the seasoned panko crumbs. Make sure to coat both sides with a nice, even layer. Lay your breaded zucchini pieces flat on the lined baking sheet. It’s OK if your baking sheet gets a little crowded – a little overlapping never hurt these zucchinis.
- Bake the zucchini. Pop the baking sheet into the oven and let the zucchinis bake up nice and crisp. It should take about a half hour for the breading to get lightly golden, which is what we’re after.
- Cook the pasta. While my zucchini is baking, I like to use the time to prepare the spaghetti. Boil the pasta al dente in generously salted water, then drain the noodles and toss them in a bit of pasta sauce to coat. Meanwhile, lower the oven temperature to about 350ºF.
- Assemble the zucchini parm. Before you assemble the zucchini parm, get a casserole dish decently coating with butter. Transfer half the spaghetti to the baking dish, sprinkle this first layer with mozzarella, then top with the remaining noodles. Place the baked zucchini rounds over top, followed by a thin coating of pasta sauce and more shredded cheese. Finally, finish off the casserole with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.
- Bake. Bake the zucchini parmesan uncovered at 350ºF for about 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Tips for Success
Here are my tips for acing this zucchini parmesan recipe:
- Don’t forget to salt the pasta water. The water you use to boil pasta should be salty like the Mediterranean, to paraphrase every Italian ever. This is the key to perfectly seasoned pasta. It does make a difference!
- Don’t leave the breaded zucchini sitting for too long. Moisture will start to creep in. If your zucchini wheels do sit for a while, it’s a good idea to give them another pass through the panko mixture before assembling the parm (minus the egg this time).
- Keep the baked zucchini crispy. To help keep the baked zucchini from becoming soggy, you can transfer them from the baking sheet to a wire rack .
- Should you salt zucchini before cooking? Some cooks will insist that zucchini be salted and laid out on paper towels before cooking, to help extract any excess moisture. I’ve found that this isn’t necessary for this recipe. As mentioned, the heat from the oven takes care of that. Save that salt for the pasta water!
This pasta dish is a meal in itself, but I love serving it with a simple spring mix salad and something bready on the side. A slice of crusty sourdough, buttermilk biscuits, cornbread muffins or popovers are our favs.
How to Store and Reheat Extras
Leftover zucchini parmesan can be kept airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, place individual servings or the casserole itself back into the oven at 350ºF until warmed through.
Does This Freeze Well?
Freezing zucchini parmesan comes with a caveat: as zucchini holds a lot of water, it doesn’t keep its texture well and can become mushy when thawed. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend freezing as a first choice for storage. It’s much better to make easy meals out of the leftovers while they’re fresh!
More Pasta Dinner Ideas
- Bucatini with Quick Meat Sauce
- Homemade Beef Lasagna
- Ground Beef Pastitsio Pasta
- Gigi Hadid Pasta (Spicy Vodka Pasta)
- Mexican Taco Spaghetti
- Creamy Broccoli Casarecce Pasta
- Million Dollar Spaghetti
- 1 batch homemade pasta sauce
- 2 large zucchini , or 3 medium zucchini, ends cut off and sliced into rounds
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs, plain
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided use
- 2 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 16 oz box spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Prep your tools. Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the Panko mix. In a medium bowl combine the Panko, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of the parmesan. Mix well and set aside.
- Whisk the eggs. In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Set aside.
- Prep the zucchini. Dip each slice of zucchini into the eggs, then dip into the Panko mixture making sure to coat both sides well. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Lay them flat if possible. If you have a lot of slices, it is ok for the bottom/top of each slice of overlap slightly.
- Bake the zucchini. Place the coated zucchini rounds into your oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the zucchini is lightly golden.
- Cook the pasta. While the zucchini is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and return it to the post, then toss with about 2 cups of the pasta sauce, just enough for the noodles to be coated as if you were going to serve them solo.
- Prepare to bake.Coat a 9×13 baking dish or deep casserole dish, with the butter and set aside. Lower oven temperature to 350F.
- Assemble the zucchini parm. Layer half of the noodles into your baking dish, then sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella over the noodles. Layer the rest of the noodles on top. Layer the baked zucchini rounds on top of the noodles and top with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sauce, enough so that all of the zucchini has a thin coat. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and the last 2 tablespoons of parmesan on top.
- Bake. Place in the oven and bake uncovered at 350F for 30 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbly.