This tangy vegan dish makes good use of summer’s bounty
Got zucchini? And yellow squash? The way veggie gardens produce this time of year, you may be overloaded with both – and looking for recipes.
We’ve got you covered.
Serve this quick stir fry over polenta or rice, and you have a dish that’s perfect for Meatless Monday. But it’s tasty enough for company, too.
In fact, we bet they’ll ask for seconds. So double the recipe and use up even more of that bumper zucchini harvest.
Recipe: Zucchini and Chickpea Stir-Fry
We like to use both zucchini and yellow squash in this dish, but you could use just one of them if you prefer. And if chickpeas don’t appeal to you, feel free to substitute another legume. We’d suggest white beans, but black beans would be fun, too.
We like to stir fry the veggies quickly in a big frying pan for a few minutes to brown them. Then we add chickpeas and tomato and simmer for ten minutes or so – just enough time so the squash cooks through and all the flavors have a chance to meld together.
Serve this dish over a cooked grain of your choice. We like to use Polenta, but it would be equally good over rice (especially Aromatic Yellow Rice.) You could also try Grits or even Couscous. Prepare 1½ to 2 cups dried grain according to package directions (and people’s appetites).
This dish takes about 15 minutes of prep time, plus 20 to 30 minutes cooking time.
The recipe yields 6 main-course servings. Leftovers keep well for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 1 medium onion
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste
- ~1 pound zucchini
- ~1 pound yellow squash
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- a handful of parsley for garnish (optional; may substitute cilantro)
- serve over cooked grain of choice (see headnote)
- Peel the onion and cut it into thin slices or ½-inch dice. Set aside. Peel the garlic and cut it into thin slices or fine mince. Set aside.
- Place a large (preferably 12-inch) frying pan over medium stovetop heat (you could also use a Dutch oven). When hot, add olive oil. When the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onion. Season with salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes). Cook until the onion is translucent, but not browned (5 or 6 minutes).
- Meanwhile, wash the zucchini and yellow squash. Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them into slices about a third of an inch thick.
- When the onion is cooked, add the garlic and the red pepper flakes (if using) to the frying pan. Cook for one minute.
- Add the chopped zucchini and yellow squash. Sauté for 5 minutes. While the zucchini is cooking, open the canned chickpeas and pour them into a strainer or colander. Rinse off the gunk they’re stored in, then let the chickpeas drain in the sink.
- After the zucchini has cooked for 5 minutes, add the cumin, coriander, and cinnamon to the zucchini/onion mixture. Stir to combine, then cook for 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and the tomato. Stir to combine. Turn down the stovetop heat so the mixture simmers. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the parsley (if using) and mince it.
- When the timer goes off, taste the stir-fry. Add more salt if necessary. You can serve the dish now or let it keep simmering over very low heat (up to an additional 30 minutes). When ready to serve, ladle the zucchini mixture over your cooked grain of choice, and sprinkle with parsley (if using) to garnish.
- This recipe is flexible in terms of ingredients and quantities. You could add more zucchini/yellow squash than we specify, for example. You could also add another vegetable, such as green beans or eggplant. Or stir in some cooked greens (like kale or Swiss chard) at the end. The possibilities are endless.
- The spicing in this dish is fairly mild (but highly aromatic), and the flavors of the spices definitely add tang. But the only heat comes from the red pepper flakes. So if you want a mild dish, you can omit them.
- You could also spice this dish differently if you like. The cumin, coriander, and cinnamon give this a North African vibe. You could eliminate them and instead add thyme, savory, and rosemary (that would yield a Provençal-style dish). Oregano would also work nicely in this recipe.
- Want more tang? Stir in some lemon zest or balsamic vinegar right before serving.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. Kosher salt has larger crystals than regular table salt, so it’s less salty by volume. If you’re substituting regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But as always, season to taste.
- We suggest using canned chickpeas or beans in this dish because they’re convenient, but you can always use dried, cooked beans. We often cook beans in quantity, then freeze the leftovers. We divide them into 1- or 2-cup containers and freeze them in their cooking liquid. When we’re ready to use the beans, we just thaw them out, drain them, and then add them to whatever we’re cooking.
- This isn’t a classic stir-fry since it simmers for a bit. It’s really a combination stir-fry (or sauté) and braise. We decided to call it a stir-fry because it’s a fairly quick dish to prepare. You can call it whatever you want.
Hot Enough for You?
“Wowzer, the weather has been scorching lately,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “108 degrees F. a couple days ago.”
“We’re doomed,” I said. “Good thing this dish doesn’t take too long to cook.”
“Speaking of hot,” said Mrs K R. “You could have added more red pepper flakes to this dish.”
“That would pack some heat,” I said. “But some readers can’t tolerate them. So I wanted to make a dish that was tasty without turning up the spice-ometer”
“Ah, so you were trying to beat the heat?” said Mrs K R.
“Yup, because some DON’T like it hot,” I said.
“Good decision,” said Mrs K R. “You won’t catch any heat from me.”
I’m relieved. Because we don’t need another heat wave around here.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Aromatic Yellow Rice
Lentil, Quinoa, and Zucchini Salad
Summer White Bean and Quinoa Salad
Or check out the index for more recipes
Zucchini is always presented as an ingredient that everyone has too much of. I don't know anyone who has a vegetable garden any more, so I'm not "burdened." In fact, I have to buy zucchini when I want it. Which proves that it has real value.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
I love this. We've got some berbere spice languishing in the cupboard from a long ago Ethiopian recipe. I might try that in this. Vegetarian food is just easier in the summer...
This reminds me of a delicious vegetarian curry I had some time ago. I love the warm spices that you used in this stirfry. Very flavoursome and moreish..would be really nice with some homemade flatbread for a satisfying meal.
Hi Mae, we do grow some veggies, but don't do zucchini these days (takes too much room). But we sometimes find boxes of orphan zucchini on our doorstep from people who DO grow it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, veggie food is easier at this time of the year, isn't it? And SO good! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, it'd be pretty easy to turn this into a curry. And flatbread is a wonderful idea! Thanks for the comment.
This looks really good, John! Our garden is going wild and the zucchini crop is going to be massive. I love the idea of mixing the chick peas with the squash! :)
Hi Pat, we love to mix legumes/pulses with veggies! Adds a lot of nutrition and flavor -- and makes an easy meal to put together. Thanks for the comment.
Hey John! I make something similar but never with chickpeas - so I'm going to change that. Brilliant addition making this a whole meal for me. Lovely!
Another great way to make the most of summer squash! I like the addition of the chickpeas, looks tasty. :)
What a scrumptious way to celebrate summer! A slice of crusty bread to soak up all the flavors is the way to dinner.
I definitrly agree on using both zucchini and yellow squash for color. Actually this pretty much is a vegetarian couscous recipe, very Moroccan with the used spices. Looks very good.
Hi John, can never have enough zucchini recipes, one of my summer favorites. Love the spice combo.
This is just summer on a plate! I loooove chickpeas and zucchini but I don't think I've ever put the two together. It's time for me to change that!
Hi Tricia, we really like that whole meal aspect to this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, we love chickpeas! And are always happy to find a new way to use them. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Deb, yup, bread is a nice addition to this. And a glass of wine. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Evelyne, this does remind one of a Moroccan dish, doesn't it? Love that combo of spices! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, we're big zucchini fans, too! such a good veggie. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kelsie, summer squash and chickpeas are SO GOOD together. You'll have to try that . :-) Thanks for the comment.
I predict cool weather soon! It happened here today and it's kind of nice! As this dish looks very nice, too! My zucchini are coming and I must be ready. Thanks for helping!
Hi Abbe, some cool weather would indeed be nice! This has been a HOT summer thus far. Thanks for the comment.
Yes, I have both zucchini and yellow squash as well as a couple of volunteers that I haven't figured out what they are yet? :) This dish looks SO good John! Love the addition of chickpeas, adding a little protein and texture. Very creative choice of spices. Haven't never used these with summer squash. Sound delicious!
This has been one warm, wet summer!! We were gifted some summer squash the other day and your stir fry would be perfect for my lunches this week.
Hi MJ, the spicing of this is really nice! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, we haven't had that much rain, but it's been HOT. :-( Thanks for the comment.
Just beautiful John, this is a perfect dish for anyone, at anytime of the year which makes it an amazing all round creation. Even in Australia where we can buy decent zucchinis all year long and we are having the mildest winter ever ... eg. today is 20C yesterday was 23C so need light but tasty, healthy dishes. Beaut presentation. I am glad you are both surviving your heated days :D
Hi Merryn, it should be a bit cooler here next week, thanks goodness! And you're right -- this is a super dish no matter what season of the year it is. Thanks for the comment.
Beautiful dish! Perfect for the summer and the addition of legumes/pulses makes this a hearty, filling meal. We love that you added cumin, we also like to use it ourselves whenever we make chickpeas:) Plus it's good for one's health!
Bravo, wonderful recipe John!
I love stir-fries and this one seems mouth-watering! Just the perfect summer dish!
Hi Mirella and Panos, cumin and chickpeas pair so well, don't you think? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Agness, this has really good flavor, and is SO satisfying. Perfect after a long run!:-) Thanks for the comment.
Haha, I actually just made a soup for dinner and put 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes. I actually love it hot, but if I put the recipe on the blog, I will be sure to reduce it by at LEAST half.
This looks delicious though!
Hi Cathleen, we actually like things quite spicy too. Most people don't, though, so I do try to test recipes both with/without loads of spice to make sure the flavor is good both ways. Thanks for the comment.
This is right up my alley! Great idea to serve over polenta, too. Makes a nice change from rice. Thanks!
A perfect, colourful dish and light enough to enjoy in your steamy, hot weather! Interesting combination of spices, and saucy enough for the polenta to soak up the flavourful goodness.
Hi Lydia, we love polenta! And try to sneak it into any dish we can. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Eva, it's a really nice combo of flavors and textures. And cooks quickly -- as you say, perfect for our hot weather. Thanks for the comment.
I love the looks and the sounds of this dish John...packed with lots of flavors from the spices...great main dish!
Have a wonderful rest of the week :)
Hi Juliana, this dish is loaded with flavor -- SO good! Thanks for the comment.
I really enjoy stir-fry dishes. Gotta try healthy recipes like this one!
Hi Denise, "healthy" often tastes wonderful. This sure does! Thanks for the comment.
What a great way to use up the bounty of zucchini this time of year.
Hi Laura, always looking for new ways to use zucchini! And this is a good one. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is a wonderful summer meat-free dish. I like the hint of cinnamon you added.
Hi Holly, we really like cinnamon in savory dishes. Add a real interest flavor note. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks so summery and what a great way to use up all that summer bounty. I love that you used both zucchini and yellow squash.
Hi Chris, zucchini and yellow squash not only taste great together, they also look wonderful. Win-win. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yum! I totally want to eat the crap out of this!!! Looks like the perfect side dish to some grilled chicken :)
Hi GiGi, this could easily be a side -- and grilled chicken would be great with it! Thanks for the comment.
This dish looks lovely. Thanks especially, though, for the tip on freezing beans!
Hi Jeff, always nice to have some cooked, frozen beans on hand! Thanks for the comment.
I love zucchini and chickpeas both and this delicious and healthy stir-fry looks absolutely delicious. I am sure it tastes divine. Thank you for this lovely recipe. Happy weekend. :D
Hi Anu, it's a wonderful combo of flavors! :-) Thanks for the comment.
A great way to use up summer veggies! It looks and sounds tasty.
Hi Pam, love summer produce! And this IS a good way to use it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love all the different spices you put in this dish. It looks so healthy and delicious.
Hi Gerlinde, it's a really nice combo of spices -- and, in the amounts used, somewhat on the subtle side. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a delightful summery dish. And I would totally mound it over soft polenta. That's ideal weeknight meal in my book.
Hi Carolyn, isn't this nice? And SO good over polenta! Thanks for the comment.
Great way to use some of the zucchini in my garden. Great recipe!
Hi Dawn, isn't this nice? Such a nice summer dish! Thanks for the comment.
We have your delicious zucchini and chickpea stir fry slotted in for this upcoming meatless Monday. Perfect use of the summer harvest ingredients.
Hi Bobbi, you'll love this! Tons of flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Ah, perfect. You can consider this my "last meal". I'm at LAX waiting for a plane to whisk me away. Thanks for the delicious distraction. GREG
I Greg, your "next" meal is the one I want -- have a great time in Tahiti! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Ah zucchini and summer....it's seemingly never ending isn't it? Great recipe!
Hi Pamela, never ending, always good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks like something I would love as a side dish o on its own!Yum!
Hi Peachy, bet you would like this -- it's SO good! :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, this looks great. I make a lot of meatless meals but have never thought to add garbanzo beans to zucchini. The added protein makes it a great main dish.
Hi Jean, we love garbanzo beans! Great flavor and nutrition. Winner! Thanks for the comment.
Wow this is so colourful and it looks so good. I am always trying to get the hubby to eat more veggies in his food, I am going to try this one out on him. I know I will love it so it won't go to waste :D
Hi Emma, this has a ton of flavor, so I'll bet he'll like it! Thanks for the comment.
I love this, John! Over polenta works for me! I'm glad you used Kosher salt, I like it too and use it often because of the larger crystals, but earlier this year, I was criticized for using it with what I made at the time, whatever it was. I use it anyway! Thanks for this great recipe to try! Take care
Hi Pam, kosher salt is good stuff! As is this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is a perfect meal for eating up all those garden zucchinis! It's so delicious and healthy, too!
A great pile of summer veggies! Love the sound of this, I bet it's good as a side at a BBQ.
Hi Amy, delicious and healthy works for us! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Caroline, hmm, BBQ! You're right -- I bet this would make a good side! Thanks for the comment.
I like the idea of adding some lemon zest to freshen up this summer dish. I'm boiling here in Madrid and could use something to 'freshen up.' (I know I mentioned the heat here the last time I made a comment on your post)!
Hi Fran, lemon zest definitely helps freshen up things! :-) Thanks for the comment.
this time of year we joke that its time to play "hit the doorbell and run" It means we are overloaded with garden squash and we have so much we can't give it away. So, we fill a bag, and head for the neighbors put a bag on their door knob, hit the bell and run!
This is a great recipe. Thanks for sharing.
Hope you are enjoying your summer.
Hi Velva, that's why we don't grow squash these days! We're always gifted some. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John! And what a great recipe to make use of my seemingly endless bounty of summer squash! It's so colorful. And a perfect hearty meatless meal! Nice! :)
Hi Anne, we make this (or a variation -- there are countless ways you can riff off this dish) often during the summer. Good stuff! Thanks for the comment.
Yum, this zucchini dish looks great. I can play with the ingredients forever and never get bored of it. This is such a great inspiration John.
Hi Amira, we make this a lot -- and rarely make it the same way twice. As you say, fun to play with the ingredients! Thanks for the comment.
I've been enjoying lots of meatless meals in the last year. My tastebuds have just gone in that direction lately. This is a great quick dinner idea, John and I love everything about it!
Hi Marcelle, even though we enjoy meat, we could easily become vegetarian -- so many really good dishes! Thanks for the comment.
Even though I've discovered growing herbs and the odd tomato in pots and love the little gardening bug thang, I've never grown zuchinnis but always have a bounty of them, they seem to be my go to for just about any summer vegetable. Love this stir fry, sounds just the thing I want for dinner.
Hi Anna, we used to grow zucchini, but no longer -- we either get gifted some, or good local ones are available in the supermarket for not much money. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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