Here is my tale of the long and winding road to these Parmesan Zucchini Planks with Herbed Ranch Dip: Zucchini and I had a rough start in the garden this year. All the seeds I planted decided to be stubborn and not sprout. So, I waited…and waited…then replanted on top of what I’d already planted. Again, I waited…and waited….and either replanted a third time or planted zucchini starts on top of the seeds that had refused to sprout. I’m sure you can figure out what happened next – yes, the seeds then decided to come up among the starts and before I knew it, we were buried alive in very active triple-planted zucchini. That eventually brought on feelings of desperation due to the fact that zucchini was growing faster than we could even give it away.
The challenge then, was to come up with a quick and easy zucchini recipe that we would actually look forward to eating. One evening, when putting supper together and staring blankly at the mountain of zucchini harvested that day, I decided rather than sneaking them out to our compost pile I’d give them one more chance. These Parmesan Zucchini Planks are the result, and they have become a regular part of our summer suppers. Simple is always better, and this is about as simple as it gets. Zucchini are halved and quartered, then covered with your favorite herb blend and sprinkled with parmesan. Then popped into the oven to roast for a few minutes and served with a creamy Ranch dip. It works as either an Appetizer or a side dish, and I’m hoping this herby, cheesy, slightly crisp zucchini plank with creamy Ranch dip will be a regular addition to your menu also.
This is a recipe that is truly your own to do with as you please. I’ve just told you what I did, but feel free to use different cheeses, herb blends, and roasting times. After all, it’s still summer and quick and easy remains the name of the game.
We’ll just get started with a few zucchini. You can figure about 1 to 1 1/2 zucchini per person for this recipe. Are you laughing? I mean, we’re talking about zucchini here so how could that be possible? Seriously – these guys disappear fast so we’ll have to proceed on trust. Slice them into planks and drizzle with some oil, salt and pepper, and go crazy with your favorite herb blend. I love Penzey’s Sunny Paris blend for these zucchini planks. It’s a combination of shallots, chives, peppercorn, dill, basil, tarragon, chervil and bay leaf. If you don’t happen to have any of that laying around, use your favorite blend. With this recipe, the more the merrier! And if you’d like a little heat, toss in come cayenne pepper to the mix. Add a sprinkle or two of grated parmesan cheese or your favorite cheese blend and you’re good to go.
For those of you who like the crisp but tender texture of vegetables, roast for about 15 minutes at 375. Jab it with a paring knife and if they fight back a little you are at crisp but tender. Those who prefer tender zucchini planks just need to wait about five extra minutes, and when you do your jabbing, no resistance should be felt. Regardless of your texture preferences, you’ll be rewarded with a cheesy, herbaceous zucchini plank that is delicious as an appetizer or a side dish, and is just waiting patiently for some herbed ranch dressing to dip itself into.
As soon as you can handle them, get these guys out on a platter. Use your favorite Ranch dressing (I always use Litehouse dressing, but do what you like best). Regardless of what you choose, it’s always good to stir in some fresh herbs to lift the flavor. I used Italian Parsely and Basil this time, but feel free to chop up what you like. Chives or green onion are always good. Dill is excellent too. You’ll want to avoid ‘fuzzy’ herbs like sage for this, and if you choose rosemary, remember it’s super strong so tread lightly.
That’s all there is to it!! I hope these zucchini planks make you as happy as they do our family. And thanks so much for reading today!!
Here are a couple of other zucchini recipes from Bird’s Nest Bites that I hope you’ll like:
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- Zucchini – figure 1 ½ zucchini per person for appetizers or as a side dish. Zucchini should not be huge, but feel free to use those that are up to about 3 inches in diameter.
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Your favorite herb blend. You’ll probably need a good couple of tablespoons or more for a regular sized cookie sheet’s worth of zucchini. I used Penzy’s Sunny Paris blend, which is a combination of shallots, chives, peppercorn, dill, basil, tarragon, chervil and bay leaf. If you don’t happen to have any of that laying around, use your favorite herb blend. The more the merrier!
- Parmesan cheese or your favorite hard cheese blend. Machengo, Asiago, Grana Padano, Romano (tastes a little like sheep, so if you haven’t tried it first, best to taste before you buy if possible), or any firm cheese you like that can be grated.
- Your favorite Ranch dressing. I always use Lighthouse dressing, and their Country Ranch works really well with this. However, whichever Ranch dressing you use, it’s always a nice touch to stir in some fresh herbs to lift that flavor up. I chose Italian Parsley and Basil for my fresh herbs, but feel free to use whatever sounds good. Dill would be nice; chives or green onion would be delicious too. You might want to stay away from ‘hairy’ herbs like sage. Rosemary is super strong, so a light touch is a good idea. Throw in some hot sauce if you like things spicy. See where I’m going here? Make it the way that suits you and you will be a much happier camper.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Remove stem and blossom end from zucchini and cut into 3-4-inch lengths. Then cut each length in half lengthwise. These lengths aren’t written in stone, so just do what makes sense so you don’t have pieces left over.
- Lay the zucchini planks skin side down on the baking sheet. Drizzle or spray with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle liberally with your selected herb blend. This is not a time to be stingy – remember its zucchini we are dealing with here, and it can use all the help it can get in the flavor department.
- Sprinkle your chosen cheese or cheese blend over the top of the zucchini. Be as generous or as stingy as you want. I’m usually a little on the stingy side and use about 1-2 teaspoons per plank.
- Roast at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Here’s another decision point for you: This part depends on how you like vegetables cooked. If you are a member of the ‘I like them crisp/tender’ then shoot for about 15 minutes. If you like them tender, start checking at 15 minutes but you’ll probably need 20 or so. If you insert a sharp paring knife in the center and it gives you a little resistance you are at crisp/tender. If it feels super soft you are at the tender moment. Sometimes I even let them go past the ‘tender’ test until they are almost brown on the outside and creamy on the inside. Those guys are really good as a vegetable side dish to chicken, fish, etc.
- Remove from oven and let cool just so you don’t burn yourself. Put the planks on a platter, pass the Herbed Ranch Dip, and be prepared to put a big smile on your face.