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Sautéed Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

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Crisp zucchini, burst cherry tomatoes and meltingly sweet red onions make a lovely summer side dish.

Sautéed Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

As much as I love fall produce — thoughts of Honeycrisp apples, winter squash, and sweet potatoes are already dancing around my head — I’m not quite ready yet. So here’s one last hurrah for colorful summer veggies: a side dish of crisp zucchini, burst cherry tomatoes, and meltingly sweet red onions sautéed in olive oil. If it sounds basic — you’re right, it is — but it’s one of those dishes where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Pair it with grilled salmon or chicken and some orzo doused with a bit of lemon and olive oil for a light and easy weeknight meal.

What you’ll need to make Sautéed Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes ingredients1

How to make it

Begin by chopping the vegetables. Be sure to cut the zucchini in large chunks because you don’t want it to cook too fast and get soggy. As far as zucchini is concerned, crisp is always the name of the game.


Next, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the red onions.


Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and pale purple.


Add the zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper.


Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the zucchini is cooked but still crisp, and the tomatoes have started to collapse, creating a little sauce.


Stir in the fresh basil, season to taste and serve. That’s all there is to it. Enjoy!


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Sautéed Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

Crisp zucchini, burst cherry tomatoes and meltingly sweet red onions make a lovely summer side dish.

Servings: 4
Total Time: 15 Minutes


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 pound zucchini (2-3 medium), cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (I usually buy NatureSweet Cherubs)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil, plus more for garnish if desired


  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the red onions and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and pale purple in color, 7-8 minutes. Do not brown.
  2. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes, or until the zucchini are cooked but still crisp and the tomatoes have started to collapse, creating a little sauce. Stir in the fresh basil, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with more fresh basil if desired.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 104
  • Fat: 7g
  • Saturated fat: 1g
  • Carbohydrates: 9g
  • Sugar: 6g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Sodium: 529mg
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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  • This dish is so good, anytime of the year! Thanks Jen

  • This was the first of Jenn’s recipes I ever tried and it remains one of my favorites! It’s quick and delicious, and as I’ve subsequently found out – very forgiving! I’ve used white and yellow onion instead of red; coconut oil instead of olive oil; yellow squash instead of zucchini (I actually prefer it this way); and dried French sweet basil instead of fresh. It’s all good. I even did a cooking demonstration of seven different vegetable dishes for a church group and this was the favorite. It goes great with anything – fish, chicken, Ikea meatballs, steak, pork chops… Even if you don’t like squash, try it and you might be surprised.

  • What a delicious and filling dish. I can eat it as an entree. I cooked the zucchini a little longer before I added the tomatoes and the remainder of the ingredients. I like squash softer. It was delicious and the sauce that is created it a pleasant surprise. Thanks! Selena.

  • Great combination . Mixed it with spaghetti noodles . Good the next day as a salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Cook once , eat twice that’s my motto 😁

  • Best squash recipe ever!

  • This recipe is so fresh and light, we really loved it and so simple to make.

  • This is now my favorite zucchini recipe! I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand except the fresh basil but it turned out great with some dried basil. I also substituted Lawry’s seasoned salt for regular salt. This recipe was easy to prepare and from all reviews appears very versatile. Thanks, Jenn!

  • Could I use yellow or white onions instead?

    • Yep 🙂

      • Thank you! I used half a large yellow and turned out great. Smelled really great too!

        • — Tanuja Nadarajan
        • Reply
    • This recipe is awesome! I am literally flooded with 🍅 ‘s & Zucchini. Not only is it mouth watering it has helped me reduce my tidal wave of fresh produce.
      In light of being stuck at home, it helps take a slight edge off becoming a victim of “cabin fever.“

      • — Peter James Petsas Jr.
      • Reply
  • This has become one of my favorite summer sides. As a bonus, the leftovers make a great starter for lunches for my week. For example, last week I cooked some noodles and drained them, put the leftovers in a pan with the noodles, and used some green chili paste and a little cream to make a sauce. It was really good and made about four lunches. Can’t wait to make your recipe again tonight with the fresh veggies I got at our local farmers market.

  • Easy, fresh & delicious! I used the zucchini, cherry tomatoes & basil right out of my backyard garden.

  • We used a white onion and didn’t add Basil. But other then that did everything else correct. By the way are you supposed to leave the skin on or take off?? Do you use the seeded part of the Zucchini??

    Lovely dish and will make again.

    • Glad you liked it! You don’t need to peel the zucchini and unless it has really big/ a lot of seeds, you don’t need to cut those out.

  • Hello! Could this be made the day before and reheated in the oven?

    • Hi Sarah, I think you can get away with reheating this, but would probably use either the stove or the microwave.

  • This recipe is so fresh and delicious. It’s great as a side dish but we also like add feta cheese and put it over angel hair pasta. One question – can I freeze this??

    • — Stephanie Lambros
    • Reply
    • Hi Stephanie, Glad you like it. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will freeze well – sorry!

  • Lovely recipe. I put half the tomatoes in initially and then the rest in after about 5 minutes. I served it over pearl couscous and it was so fresh tasting. I also drizzled on some balsamic glaze when it was plated. Thank you for another winning recipe.

    • — MARIE Turkstra
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Love this recipe. Would this work if I were to slice the onions and and zucchini into strips? I’m trying to mimic our favorite Mediterranean place down the street as they have something similar. Thanks!

    • Hi Chad, Yes, I think that should work just fine.

    • Very similar to a recipe I’ve made for years. Tried this as written and the next night merged the recipes and I liked the merged version even better! After sautéing the onions, zucchini, and tomatoes and adding garlic and seasoning, squeeze a lemon over it all. Keep the heat high and the lemon juice begins to caramelize, creating a fresh and deep flavor. Best to use a stainless steel pan for the best caramelization.

  • This recipe worked perfectly and was absolutely delicious! The sweetness of the red onions really added a nice flavor to the dish. It was quick and easy and made a wonderful side dish for my dinner.

  • Hi Jenn, I have larger group and am doubling. Can I sauté the onions in the pan first, then transfer and toss everything together on baking sheet with parchment paper and then bake in the oven instead? My pan is not big enough for the quantity I need to do for stove top. Would it work in the oven? If so, how long would I bake it for and at what temp? 😀

    • I think that will work, Kathy. The tomatoes will need much more time to cook than the zucchini. At 400°F, I’m guessing 20 to 25 minutes for the tomatoes and 5 to 10 minutes for the zucchini.

  • I always add grated Parmesan cheese heavy on top and let sit 10 minutes! Yum

    • — Vicky L Rehberg
    • Reply
  • Yum! I just received my misfit box in the mail and I had cherry tomatoes, red onions, garlic and zucchini in the shipment. I was trying to figure out what to make and how perfect that I found your recipe. I made the recipe as described except I didn’t have basil on hand, so I used fresh rosemary. I then made it a complete meal by folding in cooked ground, pastured pork. It was a yummy, simple meal, packed with flavor. The whole family approved! Next time I hope to try it with basil. This will definitely go on our meal rotation.

  • This side dish is elegant, healthy, and unbelievably satisfying. I like my zucchini a little softer so I cooked it for a couple of minutes before I added the tomatoes. Pair this with her Grilled Chicken and Cilanto-Rice (from her cookbook) and you will impress people!

  • It was delicious . I didn’t tell my husband about it . He ate his supper then said that tomato side dish we really tasty . It was easy to make it can go with just about any meal . I was very impressed . Thank you .

    • — Janice McDonald
    • Reply
  • One of my favorite side dishes! Fresh and delicious
    I have made it and left the basil out and it’s still amazing.

    • — Ann - War Eagle
    • Reply
  • I love this creative combination!! So pretty and delicious! We love them!

  • Love this, I changed it a little to match with the Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs by adding a little cumin and cinnamon to try and carry through the flavors. Matched really well.

  • Hi, I made your recipe and it looks and tastes good. One comment is 3-5 minutes to cook zucchini is too short of a time. Also, because I added the zucchini and tomato at the same time to the pan, the tomato fell apart and the skins were floating. Do you think you should cook the zucchini halfway first and then add the tomatoes?

    • Hi Teresa, Sure, if you’d like your zucchini a little softer without overcooking the tomatoes, I’d add them first to soften up for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes. Hope that helps!

    • totally agree with you! i made it double amounts and the tomatoes fell apart quickly and zucchinis were still way undercooked. i would even say, leave the tomatoes whole and give them more time to pop. otherwise you will have created more or less spaghetti sauce. i am bummed out about that.

      • This may have to do with the type of cherry tomato used. Some types might have more flesh, others more juice, and yet others have skin that turns very chewy when cooked. It may take experimenting with other varieties of cherry tomatoes to get the preferred texture.

    • Great recipe! Had cherry tomatoes and zucchini from my garden, and this recipe fit the bill! Great flavor combination. I’m always looking for different healthy ways to prepare zucchini. Thanks for a great side dish recipe!

  • This is sooo good! I love your recipes! Thank you!

  • I loved this! It was nice and light. I served this with salmon. I did add some spinach but is perfect as is!

  • This dish is delightful!!!! I did not make any changes to the recipe, except sometimes I have forgotten to buy fresh basil and have used dried basil or simply omitted the basil. I love pairing it with brown rice so I can enjoy the juice that is released from cooking the vegetables. Make this combo tonight with your favorite protein, and you will have an easy, gourmet meal on a weeknight. 🙂

  • I made this and loved it! Just wonder if you could freeze it??

    • Hi Jackie, Unfortunately, I don’t think the zucchini will hold up well. Sorry!

  • Another fabulous recipe by Jenn!
    Turned out perfectly
    Thank you Jenn

  • Delicious!

  • So nice! I’ve always made this combo of vegs but never with the details that make this stand out in eye appeal. Chunky zucchini, red onions and pop of cherry tomatoes(I used yellow) it’s beautiful, healthy, easy and perfect!

  • I’ve make this dish many times – it’s fantastic and easy to make.

  • This is a delicious recipe as is, but if you want to kick it up a notch you can do this:
    1. Use half green and half yellow squash and follow the recipe as written.
    2. When it’s time to add the tomatoes, remove the pan from the heat, add the tomatoes, a large handful of mozzarella cheese, and the basil. Cover & let stand for 5 minutes then serve.
    This goes great with a grilled steak or chicken.
    Thank you for this recipe, Jenn – love your site.

  • This is a go-to recipe for me! I have recently lost 45 pounds so lean proteins and veggies are must on my menu. Only changes I made were avocado oil in lieu of olive oil and I cut way back on salt – every man for himself with the salt shaker.

  • If you have a garden, you know how abundant cherry tomatoes can be. Everyone knows about zucchini too… With those thoughts in mind, I’m always looking different for ways to use these.

    This relatively simple dish is a huge winner. I tend to make it just as written. If I have some bacon fat with nothing to do, I’ll use that instead of the olive oil, but the combinations here are perfection without it.

  • Best veggies of the summer! I made this side dish last week exactly as written in the recipe. It is both beautiful and yummy. Will be making routinely.

  • Who would thunk that a zucchini recipe would be a family recipe. However, every time I say that I am making this recipe I get smiles and high fives. Flavourful, easy and quick to make and its vegetables! Who knew.
    The trick is to keep the zucchini al dente, not to overcook and I find that it is ready just when the cherry tomatoes start to give up their juice.

    • — Walter Rilkoff
    • Reply
  • Love, love, love this recipe! I have made it numerous times exactly as written! So easy & full of flavor! I usually serve it as a side with Chilean Sea Bass for company! Always get rave reviews! Thanks Jen!!

  • Hi Jenn,

    I only have large beefsteak tomatoes, would I be able to use them chopped up? Mary

    • Sure, Mary. Enjoy!

  • Made the zucchini and tomato dish. it was good, but the addition of crumbled feta added a lot of flavor and was pretty with the green and red.

  • This was so easy, pretty, and most importantly YUMMY!

  • I was having some friends over for dinner and almost didn’t make this because I thought it was too simple to impress. I’m so glad I made it anyway! It was perfect and I can’t wait to make it again! Everyone loved it and it was so easy. Thank you!!

  • It was very good. I had to use a high heat to get the zucchini to brown which decimated the tomatoes, but since my family only likes cooked tomatoes it worked out great. I used 3 zucchini because I wanted to use up what I had on hand. Everyone loved it. Great flavor.

  • Excellent and so easy! A perfect way to use the small tomatoes and zucchini from our CSA.

  • Hi Jen – I switched this up a bit when I made it last week. Used summer squash and heirloom tiny tomatoes ( red green brown yellow ) I should have taken a pic to share !

  • I served this side dish with the lamb burgers and they were the perfect complement for the lamb, also served the zucchini with feta and dill to prepare a Greek inspired meal, along with a nice pilaf!

  • I love this recipe! It’s mid March, but I made it this week, because I love it! Zucchini can be so bland, but this combination is just perfect, great flavor and perfectly tender crisp! I use the size guidance on the rare occasion I make zucchini and don’t use this recipe! Its perfect!

  • This is my favourite zucchini dish of all time! For once, my effort cooking with zucchini didn’t turn into a soggy, tasteless mess. I love the flavour combination of the ingredients and the cooking instructions are spot on. I know this is meant as a side dish, but I could just eat this on its own…and I often do! So, so delicious! By the way, this review is way past due. I’ve been making this for close to 2 years. In fact, it’s because of this recipe that I started subscribing to your recipes Jenn. I have stacks of cookbooks, but your website is now my first go to place when looking for ideas. So thankful you share your incredible cooking talent with us!

    • — Kasia Gillings
    • Reply
    • Thank you, Kasia! So happy you’re enjoying the recipes ?.

  • I made this dish all summer long! Great as the recipe is written. Can’t wait for zucchini from the garden to make it again.

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