Make good use of that abundant summer squash in this easy recipe for savory gluten free zucchini parmesan squares. Perfect for a picnic lunch or a snack!
A great summertime snack (really!)
I have two teenage girls, and they both play softball competitively. That means lots (and lots) of packed coolers, and when you’re playing in the summertime heat, you need the good snacks that are easy to eat and don’t weigh you down.
On every team, there’s that mom that you might think I would be (but you would be wrong, sadly): lots of homemade food cut into the perfect size to eat on the go, packed perfectly and served at just the right moment. I do, however, bring all the right chips, lots of fruit, and homemade chocolate chip cookies to share.
The first time I learned of these zucchini parmesan squares, I was sitting beside that mom on one of my daughter’s softball teams. She isn’t gluten free, so I didn’t try the squares even though she was so generous in offering them to everyone.
She said that she makes these squares every summer and that they’re flavorful, packed with vegetables (thank you, summer squash!). When she said that the squares are at their best when served at room temperature, I knew I had to try to make a gluten free version.
She started to describe the recipe, and it sounded a lot like a version of our 1970’s special spinach balls. Every other person there tried it (even the youngest siblings, who had no idea they were eating vegetables).
How to make zucchini parmesan squares
To make the squares, whisk together the flours, leaveners, salt, herbs, spices, and grated cheese. Then add the nearly 2 cups of grated zucchini to a large bowl and toss it to separate the grated vegetable pieces.
In a separate bowl or larger measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, oil, sour cream, and grated onion, then add that wet mixture to the large bowl of dry ingredients. Mix to combine, and transfer to a greased baking pan. Sprinkle the top with some more cheese (grated or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano), and bake for about 30 minutes.
How to make it even easier
If you glanced at the ingredient list in the recipe below and got intimidated because it’s kind of a long list, stop ✋🏻right there. I promise the list is only lengthy because of the dried spices (which are completely ordinary and are definitely already in your pantry).
Plus, instead of using a ready-made pancake mix, I broke down the flour-baking powder-baking soda-salt. Since the original recipe calls for using Bisquick, I began by using our homemade gluten free pancake mix (since I always have some of that on hand). I found that the recipe turned out just as well and was even simpler to make when I used an all purpose gluten free flour blend.
Since zucchini has such a mild taste, and this recipe is made with oil instead of butter which is naturally more flavorful especially in baking, you really do need to use plenty of spices. Garlic powder instead of minced fresh garlic added more depth of flavor to the squares. You can actually replace the grated onion with 2 tablespoons of dried minced onion and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder.
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: The dairy in this recipe comes mainly from the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It’s a tough one to replace, but not impossible. I recommend replacing it with 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (for that cheesy flavor) and the remaining amount as shredded nondairy cheese.
I like Violife brand or Daiya, but if you can find Violife brand, they have a Parmesan alternative that looks promising for the whole amount. The sour cream can easily be replaced with an equal amount of plain nondairy yogurt. My favorite nondairy plain yogurt is by So Delicious brand.
Egg-free: There are 5 whole eggs in this recipe. I’m afraid that’s just too many eggs to expect to replace them successfully with an egg replacer like a chia egg or a flax egg (even if you boil the flax seeds and strain them out). So sorry!
Corn-free: This one’s super easy. The cornstarch is there to lighten up our standard all purpose gluten free flour blend. In its place, you can use potato starch or arrowroot in an equal amount.
Oil: The original recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I found the recipe to be too bland (and frankly, oily tasting) that way. So I switched to extra virgin olive oil, and it made a big difference. You could probably also use melted butter, and it would be delicious.