This healthy side dish is bursting with bright flavors and contrasting textures. Mellow, velvety zucchini gets spiced up with garlic and lemon juice, and the whole thing is tied up in a bow with extra-virgin olive oil and crunchy salted peanuts. Every spoonful is bliss!
Tips for making the Mashed Zucchini with Peanuts
This 5-ingredient dish couldn’t be any easier to prepare. However, to achieve success you’ll want to remember one important thing: drain your cooked zucchini well! I cannot emphasize that enough. If you don’t drain your zucchini, you’ll end up with a watery mess. The better you drain your zucchini, the thicker and more appetizing your mashed zucchini becomes. It’s a good idea to press down on the zucchini with the back of a wooden spoon so to extract as much water as possible.
You’ll probably notice that this recipe doesn’t call for salt, but you can add some natural salt, like unrefined sea salt, to taste if you want. I usually add salt to everything, but this particular dish tastes just perfect without any added salt. Besides, the salted peanuts will probably contribute all the salt you need.
Another thing: Even though it looks like you’re using an awful lot of zucchini, the resulting amount of mashed zucchini is quite small—only about 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) or so. This is because the zucchini loses so much fluid when cooked. So, if you’re serving a bigger crowd, go ahead and double or even triple the amounts.
Let’s take a look at how to make this delicious dish:
Take enough zucchini and cube it.
Transfer to a saucepan.
Add enough water so that the level rises 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the bottom of the saucepan.
Bring to a boil.
Cook, covered, until soft and tender, about 15 minutes.
Drain the zucchini very well.
Press down on the zucchini with the back of a wooden a spoon to help release all that extra fluid.
Transfer back to the saucepan.
Add the garlic…
…and the olive oil.
Pureé with an immersion blender…
…until smooth. (Or you can use a traditional blender instead.)
Spoon the mash into a serving bowl.
Sprinkle the chopped nuts on top.
Serve immediately. This is important! The nuts will lose their crunchiness if the dish sits around for too long.
My Mashed Zucchini experiments
This recipe is based on a hint from one of my readers. She sent me an idea about a Chadian dish — mashed zucchini served with peanuts. It sounded fascinating, not only because it was naturally low in carbs, but also because it combined different textures (velvety zucchini and crunchy peanuts).
Trying out the idea had been on my to-do list for a very long time. Then, last summer while my family and I were in our summer house, I finally grabbed my notes and prepared the dish for the first time.
I took two zucchinis that weighed 1 1/2 lbs (680 g) in total. I cubed them and added them to a large saucepan.
I wanted to cook the zucchinis until they were very soft. But I knew they’d release quite a bit of fluid while cooking, so I added only a little bit of water to the saucepan.
When the zucchini was soft, I poured out all the water very carefully. However, I could have been more careful—as I soon noticed.
To season the dish, I wanted to add something tangy, so I took some lemon juice. Apple cider vinegar would have been another option, but I thought lemon juice would be a better fit, as apple cider vinegar sometimes feels quite pungent, not light and fresh. Lemon juice is always brisk and fresh, especially when you squeeze it yourself.
Because the dish was practically fat-free, I wanted to add precious fats by using some extra virgin olive oil. For a moment, I thought butter would have been a good option, too, but I was a bit afraid it would leave the mashed zucchini too bland. Proper, good-quality extra virgin olive oil has a natural tang of its own, plus a characteristically “grassy” flavor which I thought would suit this dish just perfectly
And the mashed zucchini would definitely benefit from some garlic, too! Fresh, crushed garlic cloves, that is.
After adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and two crushed garlic cloves, I pureéd the ingredients until smooth and velvety. I doubt the zucchini was pureéd in the original recipe—it was probably just mashed with a spoon—but I wanted my zucchini extra-velvety so that I could accompany it with crunchy peanuts. An irresistible combo!
Whoopsie! The mash was pretty runny! I realized that I should have been more careful when draining the zucchini. I just had poured the water away, but I certainly should have pressed down lightly on the zucchini with a wooden spoon to release even more water and to make the mash thicker.
I added some unrefined sea salt to the dish just because I thought it would need some. I think the original recipe used natural, unroasted and unsalted peanuts, but I wanted to add more flavor to my dish, so I decided to use roasted, salted ones.
At first, I topped the zucchini mash with 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped peanuts when serving it. Well, it looked a bit pathetic—and I really wanted the peanuts to play a significant role rather than just being there for decoration—so I added another 1/4 cup (60 ml).
Wow! The taste was really good! Regardless of the runniness, the dish was unbelievably delicious. The crunchy peanuts really set off the taste and texture of the velvety mashed zucchini. Olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic were just the right natural, Mediterranean-inspired “flavor enhancers” for this dish, and complemented the zucchini perfectly. Great recipes really don’t have to be fancy or complicated: simple recipes like this one work best!
In my next experiment, I perfected my recipe even further. I drained the zucchini more carefully and also left out the added salt by accident—which turned out to be just right. I was surprised that this dish tasted even better without any added salt, but it sure did. Now the ingredients could really shine.
I had to close my eyes while I was spooning the Mashed Zucchini with Peanuts into my mouth, it was that good! I bet you’ll love it, too.
Here’s the recipe:
|Per serving if 4 servings in total
Tips for variation
Like I said, this recipe is perfect as is, since it features simple, well-matched ingredients. I don’t recommend adding anything—not even more garlic—since you definitely want to keep the flavors well-balanced, and garlic easily overpowers more subtle tastes.
Naturally, you can try different flavor variations by adding your favorite seasonings: just be careful not to over-season your mashed zucchini. It’s very elegant and delicate and deserves to be handled with kid gloves!
One simple variation just occurred to me: you could replace the lemon juice with lime juice. The taste will be a little bit different, but equally good!