I Tried the Recipe for Thomas Keller’s Viral Zucchini, and It’s the Perfect Side Dish (2024)

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Nathan Hutsenpiller

Nathan Hutsenpiller

Nathan Hutsenpiller is a photographer and writer residing in Queens, NY. He specializes in portrait, street and skateboard photography while also pursuing a career in photojournalism. Some of Nathan's photos have been featured in the upcoming book "Heart" by Lucas Beaufort, celebrating 40 years of skateshop history.


published May 24, 2023

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I Tried the Recipe for Thomas Keller’s Viral Zucchini, and It’s the Perfect Side Dish (1)

This may be a hot take, but I could happily live the rest of my life never eating zucchini or squash again. Unfortunately, I grew up a very picky eater, and it has taken me more adult years than I’d like to admit to reverse my bad habits. While I’ve since learned to enjoy a ton of foods that I would have otherwise never touched as a kid, there are some foods that I still can’t seem to get past for one reason or another — zucchini included. The main culprit being that my number-one issue lies within the texture, and some things with a mushy consistency just don’t do it for me.

So when I came across Corre Larkin on TikTok and her video showcasing the viral method for roasting zucchini, the new non-picky eater in me was very intrigued. Here we have a method for preparing zucchini that promises a crunchy texture, and that was something I could totally get behind.

The now viral method was introduced by none other than world-renowned chef Thomas Keller, and I was beyond excited to see if this could change my opinion of zucchini once and for all. I was prepared to have an open mind and was hopeful that I could knock out yet another old eating habit to claim a victory against my old ways.

How to Make Thomas Keller’s Viral Zucchini

Start by cutting off the ends of the zucchini and then proceed to cut each one in half lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, score the open face of each zucchini half and aggressively add salt to help absorb the moisture. Lay each half face down on a prepared paper towel to let drain for at least half an hour.

While you wait for the zucchini to drain, finely chop a shallot and throw that into a bowl. Add salt, and the juice of half a lemon, then mix together. Skin a single tomato, dice it up, and add to the bowl as well. Mix everything together and let it steep for a few minutes. If necessary, strain out any extra liquid before adding a little olive oil and mixing well. Finally, chop up a small bunch of chives and add to the mix. Preheat your oven to 450°F, then move on to the fun part.

In a pan set to high heat, add canola oil and lay the zucchini cut-side down into the oil. Cook the zucchini for about 3 minutes, enjoy the authentic sizzling sounds, and then flip before removing from heat entirely. When ready, transfer to the oven and bake for about 15 to 25 minutes. Garnish accordingly with your prepared relish mix and enjoy!

My Honest Opinion of Thomas Keller’s Viral Zucchini

I’m a tough critic when it comes to squash and zucchini. I’ve never really been a fan, and despite giving different recipes a shot from time to time, I have yet to be impressed by either of the two. This recipe, while I did not reach the intended crunch level I was hoping for, did however give me a reason to try it again.

The recipe is perfect for any get-together — especially if you need a good vegan option that anyone can eat. It’s all in the preparation, and Thomas Keller hit the nail on the head with this one. The tomato and shallot relish is an amazing garnish on top of the already magnificent-looking roasted zucchini and I’m honestly kicking myself for not achieving the crunch factor I was looking for. Now, it’s back to the grocery store for me, as I’m truly in need of a little redemption.

All in all, I won’t be jumping at the opportunity to eat zucchini now, but I will bust out this recipe periodically in hopes of perfecting it and giving my taste buds something different for a change.

3 Tips for Making Thomas Keller’s Viral Zucchini

  1. Double check the temperature. For this recipe, high heat is your friend. Make sure your oven is preheated to the correct temperature, 450°F, when starting out. Don’t repeat my mistake of setting the incorrect temperature or else you will be straying from the intended results of the recipe. I realized a little too late, but immediately pumped the heat up and gave them a little extra time to cook.
  2. Adjust the relish. While the relish from this recipe is amazing as is, this is the perfect area to experiment, replace ingredients, and make this recipe your own. Go heavy on the tomato, add a little extra olive oil, or swap out the chives for another herb of your preference. The world is your roasted zucchini-shaped oyster.
  3. Drain the excess moisture. It’s very important that you allow the zucchini to properly drain before throwing it on the pan. If the initial 30 to 45 minutes is not enough time, use a fresh paper towel to soak up any remaining moisture. In turn, the zucchini will stay together and not fall apart while cooking.

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I Tried the Recipe for Thomas Keller’s Viral Zucchini, and It’s the Perfect Side Dish (2024)


What to pair with Thomas Keller zucchini? ›

The bite of diced shallots is also mellowed by the vinegar. I modified Keller's recipe just a little by swapping fresh parsley for fresh basil—you just can't have summer tomatoes without a little fresh basil! You can also pair roasted zucchini with fresh salsa, chimichurri sauce or a homemade vinaigrette.

Should you salt zucchini before cooking? ›

Salt your zucchini before cooking.

The salt draws the moisture from the flesh which helps ensure that the vegetable stays firm during roasting. This moisture (and excess salt) is patted off with a paper towel before cooking.

Why is my sauteed zucchini mushy? ›

Zucchini is made of over 90% water. When cooked, it gets soft and slowly releases that water into whatever dish you're cooking. If zucchini is overcooked, it will have a mushy, soft texture. In certain recipes, the author may recommend that zucchini be patted dry or salted and drained before cooking.

What is Thomas Keller's favorite food? ›

“I love foie gras. One of my most favourite things to eat is white truffle. To poach a lobster tail in butter or to place a crisp-skinned rouget against the vivid green of a parsley coulis is galvanising to me as a craftsman and cook.

Why put salt on zucchini? ›

Flip onto serving plate. Serve hot or at room temperature. Salt causes zucchini rounds to release excess water.

What happens to your body when you eat zucchini? ›

Zucchini is rich in vitamin B6. Research suggests that this vitamin can help with regulating blood glucose. The vitamin may even play a protective role against diabetes. Compounds such as lutein and zeaxanthin protect the eye's cells by filtering blue light wavelengths.

When can you not eat zucchini? ›

Signs Zucchini Has Gone Bad

If your zucchini does have mold, toss it. Wrinkly skin: A spoiled zucchini's skin may look wrinkly or shriveled like a prune. Discoloration: Yellowing or browning on zucchini are signs of aging and spoilage. Soft spots: Pick up your zucchini and assess it for firmness.

What does not grow well with zucchini? ›

Avoid planting zucchini and summer squash with all other vining plants which include cucumbers and sweet potatoes as well as pumpkins, winter squashes, and melons.

How can I enhance the flavor of zucchini? ›

You can season the oil before you add the zucchini with garlic, shallots, spices, or red pepper flakes, it's totally up to you. Once the oil, butter, or combination thereof is heated, add all of the zucchini.

Does zucchini lower blood pressure? ›

Zucchini contains the water-soluble fiber pectin. Pectin may lower bad cholesterol and lipid levels in a person's blood, promoting good heart health. Furthermore, zucchini is also high in potassium, which can help manage high blood pressure.

Why is my sauteed zucchini bitter? ›

Remove the Seeds: The seeds and surrounding flesh can sometimes contribute to bitterness. You can scoop out the seeds before cooking. Salt and Drain: Sprinkle salt on sliced zucchini and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes. This draws out excess moisture and bitterness.

Why is my fried zucchini bitter? ›

What causes this bitterness? All cucurbits produce chemicals called cucurbitacins, which cause the vegetables to taste bitter and served as a defense against plant-eating wildlife. Cucurbitacin also contributes to the musky scent of cantaloupe.

Why is my zucchini so slimy when I cook it? ›

This, the outlet asserts, is due to zucchini's high water content: If it cooks too slowly, it will release its moisture before it sears, becoming soggy and sodden. Over high heat, on the other hand, zucchini becomes caramelized on the outside but retains a meaty, firm texture within.

What not to plant with squash and zucchini? ›

Cucumbers and pumpkins should not be planted next to zucchinis as they belong to the same family (Cucurbitaceae) and therefore attract similar pests and diseases.

How to grade zucchini for zucchini bread? ›

Grate, don't chop.

Here's how to grate a zucchini: Cut off the ends of the zucchini and rub it against the shredder side of a box grater to make a pile of squash that's perfectly sized for baking zucchini bread. You can also use the shredder blade in your food processor to quickly shred zucchini.

What is Thomas Keller zucchini? ›

What Is Thomas Keller Zucchini? The key to Keller's zucchini is a five-minute pan-fry in canola oil followed by a 25-minute roast in a high-heat oven. The pan-fry will caramelize the zucchini while the oven cooking will soften it until it's perfectly tender.

Do you eat zucchini and squash with the skin on? ›

Zucchini, yellow squash, and crookneck squash all have completely edible skin and seeds. Pattypan squash generally has edible skin, but the larger the squash the tougher the skin is. Take the time to roast a larger pattypan so the skin becomes softer, and you may want to remove the large seeds.

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