This eye-catching side dish is perfect for summer BBQs or a light lunch when you have excess summer squash lying around. The delicate hasselback pattern is typically used on potatoes, but we think it looks even more elegant on zucchini—especially once it’s stuffed with a savory couscous mixture. Briney capers, zesty parsley, and bright lemon juice lend their flavors to the filling so this veggie side has just as much flair as a main course. Drizzle with a simple tahini sauce, and dig in.

Tip: For 1½ cups cooked couscous, cook ½ cup dry whole wheat couscous according to package directions.

By Shelli McConnell,


  • 4 medium zucchini and/or yellow summer squash (8 to 10 oz. each)
  • 2 cups fresh parsley and/or basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups cooked whole wheat couscous, cooled (see tip in intro)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 15×10-inch baking pan with parchment paper. If necessary, remove a thin slice from one side of each zucchini so it sits flat. Cut each in half crosswise. On a cutting board arrange two chopsticks or wooden spoons lengthwise on either side of zucchini. Cut zucchini crosswise into ¼-inch slices, stopping when knife reaches chopsticks (to prevent slicing all the way through). Arrange zucchini in prepared pan.
  • In a food processor combine basil and/or parsley; capers; lemon zest; 2 cloves of the garlic, minced; the sea salt; and black pepper. Pulse until chopped and well combined. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in couscous and nutritional yeast. Spoon mixture between slices of zucchini. Spoon any remaining filling over or around zucchini. Roast, uncovered, 25 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.
  • For Tahini Sauce, in a small food processor combine tahini, lemon juice, and remaining garlic. Process until smooth, gradually adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of water until drizzling consistency.
  • Serve zucchini drizzled with Tahini Sauce.

Comments (23)

(4 from 11 votes)

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I also didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but we thought the dish was delicious and will make again. I sliced a rather large zucchini as directed. I combined GF bread crumbs, herbs, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper in blender with a bit of water until a paste-like consistency. I slathered in between the zucchini slices and baked at 375 for approximately 30 minutes. I omitted garlic from the sauce because I don’t care for raw garlic. The sauce was a nice complement to the zucchini.


We just finished eating this. My husband and I both enjoyed it. I used a large zucchini and cooked it in the microwave for 5 minutes after cutting it, but before stuffing it. I used 1 cup of whole wheat panko bread crumbs instead of the couscous. I made a sweeter tahini sauce with a little maple syrup in it. I am getting tons of zucchini and herbs from the garden right now, so this was a perfect recipe for us.


I didn’t bother making the zucchini hassleback after reading the reviews. I cut them into coins and roasted them for 10 minutes, then put the filling on top and roasted again for another 15. It was good! Can’t say I would make it again because of all the work, but it was worth trying.


I’m glad I read the reviews before deciding not to make this. I wish people would stop rating recipes 5 stars when they haven’t even made it. “It sounds great” doesn’t cut it.

Joy Hitzeman

I liked this recipe with a few modifications that I incorporated from prior reviews. I used a very large zucchini and cut in half and scooped out the inside then baked for 25 minutes while I prepared the couscous mixture I used fresh basil and added some chopped onion. Then I stuffed the zucchini halves with the couscous mixture and added chopped tomato on top and put in the oven for another 25 minutes. In making the tahini sauce I added a little soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. It was very tasty - would make again.


I made this yesterday. I didn't do the hasselbeck just cut them in half, scooped out seeds, and stuffed with the couscous mixture. After 25 minutes the zucchini was still hard, so added some water, covered with foil, and back in for another 25 minutes. They came out perfect and so delicious. Next time I will cut the recipe in half as this made a lot of food for just one person.


Inserting the couscous mix into the raw zucchinis slices without breaking it apart... a real "tour de force". How do you open raw sliced zucchinis without them snapping apart?? A little extreme as a presentation.

Matt E

Fabulously terrible. Granted, I used corn couscous, which didn’t help, but the zucchini did not cook that way and the whole thing was inedible.

Jeanne Moss

Flavors are good mix, but the hasselback did not work for me.


It was really good.. I adjusted a bit: cooked the zucchini in the oven while making the rest to make it quicker done. Added chopped onion and tomato to the couscous. The tahini dressing i thinned with water and added more lemon juice- balsamic- soy sause- maple syrup- sriracha to give more flavor.. I didn’t have any more nutritional yeast so left it out.. then just played the finished zucchini with the couscous on top and drizzle of tahini.. my husband really loved it also..


Getting back into plant based eating. I like the flavour profiles on this recipe, but I'm thinking that rather than the fuss of doing it in Hasselback I might just scoop a little of the zucchini and do it in boats


Made with quinoa and the baking kind of dried it out. Didn’t get a real depth of flavor. Going to try with couscous next try.

Joyce Davison

OMG!!! There must be something wrong with me. I have been a vegan, completing the plant-based course on this site, over 11 years ago. I cook vegan every night that we are not going out. This was the most complicated, difficult recipe I have ever made. After all the work of chopping, cooking the couscous, making the sauce, etc., which took about an hour, I sliced the zucchini to stuff. There was no way in the world that I could get the stuffing into the zucchini slits. Impossible. I ended up spreading the couscous mixture over the top. It took me about 90 minutes altogether to prepare this dish, not counting the 35 minutes it took to roast it. Never again. If anyone has some helpful hints, I'd greatly appreciate it.


I tried these and because i didn't have a couple of the ingredients (couscous & capers) I improvised as I needed to eat the zucchini I had. I used bread crumbs instead of couscous. I cooked at 400 for that amounted time plus about 5 minutes longer. They were really delicious. I will make them again, but try it with the couscous. The bread crumbs absorbed the juice from the zucchini. Next time I may add some home made Italian dressing on top.


Is there a substitute for nutritional yeast? Many recipes call for it but I get stomach cramps when I eat it.


I used flaxseed meal instead of nutritional yeast. But I still could not get anything between the zucchini slits. So frustrating.


Why do people rate recipes before they’ve even cooked them? It’s not helpful.


Agree. I really appreciate thoughtful comments about the recipes they have tried at least once.


This looks so good! I've got everything in the house to make this except the parsley. Off to the store I go.

Debbie Ward

This recipe looks great. Could it be done with quinoa instead or does it need the couscous to absorb the water from the zucchini? I don’t think I’ve ever seen wholewheat couscous - where can we get it?


I have seen whole wheat couscous at Trader Joes.


I enjoyed these. But my family was not crazy about them. Just a hint that fatter zucchini are easier to stuff. I had skinny ones, but they fell apart. I would also cook them about 15 minutes more than the recipe said ( at least). My skinny zucchini were still hard.

Alex Knapp

As soon as I get home I am making this

About the Author

Headshot of Shelli McConnell

About the Author

Shelli McConnell

Shelli McConnell graduated with a bachelor of science in consumer food science and a minor in journalism from Iowa State University. She began her career as a home economist in the Better Homes & Gardens test kitchen before moving into an editorial position within DotDash Meredith. She has since freelanced for 25 years and has served as an editorial project manager for many books and magazines, including three editions of the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. She has also developed thousands of recipes for publications including Forks Over Knives magazine; Eat This, Not That!; Diabetic Living; Better Homes & Gardens; The Magnolia Journal; and more. McConnell loves to entertain and inspire, so when she’s not in her office, she’s usually in her kitchen. Find her on LinkedIn.
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