Mexican Grilled Zucchini Ribbon Skewers with tajín are so simple with just 3 ingredients – zucchini, olive oil, and tajín. A mandoline makes quick work of making the zucchini ribbons, and the tajín provides zesty Mexican flavor. The edges char and crisp, giving you the vegetable equivalent of meaty ribs’ burnt ends. Try this healthy Mexican side dish with grilled chicken, chicken hearts, or shrimp, and elevate your grilling game!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – About Zucchini Ribbons Inspiration
Summer has hit McAllen, Texas like a sledge hammer. We’re on our third week of 100°+ temperatures, and it is NOT A DRY HEAT! That means it’s high season for summer squash – zucchini, chayote/mirliton, pattypan squash, yellow crookneck, and straight crookneck.
My teenage years were spent in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and we had a huge vegetable garden. We had many summer squash varieties, and we found all kinds of creative ways to use it. As a young adult, my biologist husband worked for a research station in Fresno, and zucchini was one of the large plots that they tested. He was in grad school, and we were dirt poor, so I was grateful for the free zucchini that came in all sizes! I learned more ways to prepare zucchini than I care to admit.🤪
I think my favorite cooking method for all summer squash varieties is grilling. The caramelized edges bring so much more flavor and texture to an otherwise somewhat bland vegetable. So, I brought out my mandoline slicer (and gloves), and got to work!
⚠️ About Mandoline Slicers
Mandoline slicers are popular among professional chefs and home cooks because they offer efficiency, precision, and consistent results. They are particularly useful when you need to slice large quantities of produce or when you want to create thin, uniform slices for dishes like salads, gratins, or garnishes.
Using a mandoline slicer can be efficient, but it’s important to take proper precautions to avoid injuries. Here are some tips to help you use a mandoline slicer safely:
- I highly recommend purchasing a mandoline slicer that includes a blade guard, a holder, and kevlar gloves. This is the mandoline I have now, and it’s the best one I’ve had.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.
- Place the mandoline on a slip-resistant surface.
- Apply gentle pressure. Avoid exerting excessive force while sliding the produce over the blade. Let the sharpness of the blade do the work for you. Push too hard, and there’s a risk of slipping and injuring yourself.
- Refer to manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning your slicer. I rinse any food remaining with very hot water. A soapy brush or soft sponge and a good rinse is usually sufficient.
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- zucchini – While I specify zucchini here, you can use other straight, long summer squash (quick cooking). I find medium-sized squash are the easiest to work with. Choose firm squash. Squash that is seedy (really large ones) don’t hold their shape on the skewers as well.
- tajín – You can use homemade tajín or store-bought tajín. This vibrant spice blend is crystallized lime juice, sea salt, and ground red chile powder.
- olive oil – I use olive oil for almost everything, and I keep it in a cruet on my counter by the stove. You can use whatever oil you like.
That’s all you need! Just 3 ingredients – zucchini, tajín, and olive oil – and about 20 minutes of your time are all that is needed for this healthy Mexican vegetable side dish.
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
- Slice the zucchini – The key to success is to get the thickness right. I find 1/8″ thick slices work best. If you’re slicing by hand, aim for a hair under 1/8″. NOTE: I don’t try to use the pieces that have a lot of skin or that aren’t flat. You can reserve these pieces and add to a salad, pot of soup, etc.
- Season the zucchini – Brush the zucchini with olive oil, then sprinkle with tajín. Repeat on the other side.
- Preheat the grill – You want a very clean and hot grill (450°-550°). NOTE: If you’re using charcoal, you will want to start it before prepping the zucchini. My gas grill only takes about 5 minutes to get hot.
- Make the skewers – Thread the sliced zucchini on the skewers in an “S” pattern. Gently press the folds together as shown in the photo.
- Grill the skewers – Place the skewers on the hot grill. Turn 2 or 3 times (carefully) to cook on all sides. NOTE: You want a good amount of color on all sides, and any charred bits are a bonus!
- Serve – I serve one grilled zucchini ribbon skewer per serving.
What are kevlar gloves?
Can I make this zucchini ribbons recipe without a mandoline?
I find that medium to medium large zucchini are the easiest to work with. If the squash is real seedy, it may not hold its shape as well on the skewer.
Try folding a zucchini slice. If it breaks at the fold, it’s too thick.
If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes before using to keep them from burning.
It is my goal to help American (and other non-Mexican) home cooks experience the bounty of healthy, Mexican-inspired cooking. There’s so much more to this glorious cuisine than enchiladas, tacos, and tamales (admittedly I love those too!). I hope you will consider adding this healthy, Mexican-inspired side dish to your summer grilling repertoire!
Mexican Grilled Zucchini Ribbon Skewers
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- 2 zucchini, sliced thin - approximately 1/8" thick (see Ingredients Notes)
- ¼ cup tajín, more or less to taste - or homemade tajín
- ¼ cup olive oil for brushing +/-
- Slice the zucchini 1/8" thick. Bend a slice to make sure it's thin enough.
- Preheat grill to high – 450°-500°.
- Lay the thin-sliced zucchini out on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with oil. Sprinkle with tajín. Repeat on the other side.
- Weave the sliced zucchini on to skewers (refer to photos).
- Grill on each side. This should mean turning 2-3 times. You want the lovely charred bits and some nice caramelization. Grilling takes about 10 minutes.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.