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)


How do you cook zucchini so it doesn't get soggy? ›

Salting and draining ensures the zucchini doesn't turn into a soggy mess while frying. This method also works for roasted zucchini, grilled zucchini, or baked zucchini if you're looking to remove as much water as possible.

Why is my zucchini soggy after cooking it? ›

Mushy veggies are also often the result of overcooking. When the interior is loaded with moisture, you have to cook it for much longer to evaporate all of the water and avoid the interior having the unappealing, spongy, raw texture that eggplant and zucchini are notorious for.

How do you keep squash from getting soggy? ›

Mistake # 1: It's watery

Squash contains a lot of water, so you need to do a little prep work to mitigate for that. After slicing the squash, salt the slices and place them on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Let it sit for 30 minutes so that the salt can draw out some of its water.

Why do you soak zucchini in salt water? ›

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. Added benefit: the salt works its way into the scores of the flesh and seasons the zucchini all the way to the center.

How do you make zucchini not soggy Reddit? ›

Cutting them in half moons or full moons, giving them plenty of space apart, roasting them on the top or bottom rack, roasting for 8 minutes and then broiling, salting them an hour before roasting to draw out moisture and drying them off.

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. If the pan seems crowded at first, don't worry. Season with salt and toss to begin drawing out the moisture.

Should I salt zucchini before cooking? ›

In fact, salting before cooking is actually Daniel Boulud's tip for prepping crispier eggplant, and zucchini is much the same. Science is on the side of salting in advance. When salt is sprinkled on the flesh of a water-dense fruit like zucchini and left to sit for a while, a process known as osmosis occurs.

Why is my zucchini turning to mush? ›

Blossom End Rot

It's occurs due to the plants inability to get calcium. This can be caused by a few things: Watering inconsistency (the most likely cause especially if you've had a lot of rain) Soil PH is either too high or too low (do a PH test to check)

How do you keep zucchini crisp when cooking? ›

Don't overcrowd the pan, which can cause the zucchini to steam instead of roast. Unless you have time to salt and drain the zucchini, wait to salt it until after they're cooked so the salt doesn't draw out the moisture in the oven—this can lead to sogginess.

When should you throw out zucchini? ›

Mold - Maybe the most obvious sign that fresh produce has gone bad. If you see mold on your zucchini, it's time to toss it out. Soft spots - When inspecting whole zucchini, if you find any soft spots that easily indent or feel squishy, this is a sign that it has begun to rot inside.

How do you know when zucchini is cooked? ›

Once the zucchini is caramelizing, you'll continue to cook it until it's until tender all the way through—a paring knife or a fork should slip in without much resistance—but not yet mushy.

What do overwatered squash look like? ›

To decipher whether your squash plant is overwatered as opposed to underwatered, look at the leaves and soil. Overwatered plants will have yellow, droopy leaves and wet soil. Underwatered squash will have yellow, brittle leaves and dry soil.

Should I stop watering squash? ›

💧 Frequency and Timing. To keep your summer squash thriving, regular, deep watering is key. This practice encourages roots to reach down for moisture, building a system that's robust against drought. Aim for about 1 inch of water per week, whether from rainfall or your hose.

How do you keep zucchini firm? ›

Blanch the zucchini to keep it firm.

Blanching will deactivate the enzymes that cause the zucchini to turn mushy and discolored. To blanch the vegetable, bring a pot of unsalted water to a boil, then place the zucchini pieces in the water and boil for 1 minute. Immediately drain them in a colander.

How do you keep zucchini from getting slimy? ›

Avoid storing zucchini in plastic, which can trap moisture and make the skin slimy. Either leave zucchini loose or place it in a paper bag.

How do you firm up zucchini? ›

Arrange the zucchini pieces into a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (It will stick to the pan if you don't line it first!) Freeze the zucchini for about 1 hour, until it's firm to the touch, then transfer it to an airtight container to preserve the flavor as you store it.

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