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Zucchini stacks with goat cheese are the BEST zucchini appetizer with creamy, tangy goat cheese, tender zucchini, and crunchy pine nuts. These stacks are as easy to make as they are delicious and elegant, and they’re perfect for a spring or summer gathering!

front view of cold zucchini appetizer on blue and white plate on top of wooden crate

I’m not one to shy away from green veggies.

In fact, I’ve been known to serve fried eggs on sautéed greens as a breakfast salad, turn a bed of greens into pizza, and replace bread with leaves.

But during the spring and summer months, my need for the color green in my diet seems to intensify even more.

From peas, to asparagus, leafy greens like spinach and watercress, leeks, and fava beans! Warmer months bring a plethora of gorgeous green vegetables and fresh flavors to cleanse our fall and winter palates.

elegant zucchini appetizers

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

If you’re looking for fresh, light, and elegant appetizers for warmer months, this recipe featuring zucchini is sure to be a new favorite!

This dish features not only the color green, making it perfect for spring and summer, but it also features a very balanced flavor profile.

The natural sweetness of zucchini is brought out by a short cooking stint.

Creamy with a lovely subtle tartness, the density of goat cheese is a wonderful addition. I used an herb and olive oil-marinated goat cheese because the infused flavor of herbs in the cheese adds so much to this dish. However, if you can’t find marinated goat cheese you can always make it yourself.

Additionally, sweet earthy green peas, salty beef bacon, toasted pine nuts, and fresh mint round out the dish. It’s both an explosion of flavor, yet very balanced at the same time.

This dish is a beautiful appetizer or first course for any meal. If you’re cooking for a big group, this recipe is easy to double so you can feed a crowd. But to be honest, I think it also makes a lovely light summer supper for two.

And bonus, these beautiful zucchini stacks come together in just 20 minutes!

top view of zucchini stacks with bacon and pine nuts

Goat Cheese Zucchini Stacks Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

  • Zucchini – If you use goat cheese and zucchini slices that are about the same diameter, this appetizer is easy to assemble and stacks well, and it looks quite elegant. My goat cheese slices were approximately 2 inches, so I selected zucchini that was around 2 inches in diameter.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – This is to cook the zucchini. We only briefly cook the zucchini here to make a bit more tender and bring out its naturally sweet flavor.
  • Beef bacon – Crispy bacon adds a layer of salty flavor to balance the sweetness of zucchini and the richness of goat cheese. My preference is beef bacon, but you can use any type of bacon you like. (If you use turkey bacon, use 1/2 tablespoon oil when you cook it.)
  • Herb-marinated goat cheese in olive oil – If you can’t find marinated goat cheese, you can get a log of goat cheese and marinate it yourself (I give instructions for this in the post below).
  • Sweet green peas – You can use frozen sweet green peas, just thaw and drain them. Look for frozen peas labeled “petite” or “baby” because they’re smaller and sweeter in flavor.
  • Pine nuts – To bring out their flavor, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet until they’re light golden and smell nutty. Feel free to swap out the pine nuts for any type of nuts you like.
  • Fresh mint – This adds a light, refreshing quality to this appetizer, as well as another layer of flavor. If mint isn’t your thing you can swap it out for another fresh herb, such as basil, tarragon, or marjoram.

Instructions

  1. Toss the zucchini with the oil to coat, and cook it until tender but not mushy on the grill or under the broiler. (It takes about 8 minutes under the broiler, flipping once halfway through.) Cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the beef bacon and cook until crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  3. To assemble the stacks, place a zucchini round on a plate; top with a goat cheese round, another zucchini round, another goat cheese round, and then a zucchini round on top (so you get 3 layers of zucchini and 2 layers of goat cheese).
  4. Sprinkle the bacon, peas, pine nuts, and mint on top of the stack and around the plate. Serve at room temperature.
zucchini appetizer recipe for entertaining

Tips

  • Zucchini size – Look for zucchini about 2 inches in diameter for this recipe so the zucchini slices are about the same size as the goat cheese slices. You’ll need 18 zucchini rounds, so you may have a few extra slices of zucchini that you can use for something else.
  • Fresh or frozen peas will work here – For frozen, thaw the peas under warm running water and drain well. For fresh, blanch the peas for 90 seconds, plunge into ice water, and drain well.
  • Make ahead – You can make the zucchini a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Wait to assemble these stacks until right before serving them.

Variations

  • Italian – Use eggplant instead of zucchini, and fresh basil instead of mint. Add a drizzle of balsamic glaze if you want!
  • Spanish – Use roasted red bell pepper instead of zucchini. Look for a spicy marinated goat cheese. Use Marcona almonds instead of pine nuts, and fresh oregano instead of mint.
  • Middle Eastern – Omit the beef bacon, and add a sprinkle of za’atar.
laura chenels marinated goat cheese

Zucchini Appetizer FAQs

Can I Serve This Cold?

Yes! I like to serve this dish at room temperature, but chilled is also delicious.

Can I Use Yellow Summer Squash?

Yes! This recipe works well with any type of summer squash. Another option is to use both zucchini and yellow summer squash and alternate slices so you have a colorful dish.

How Do You Marinate Goat Cheese?

If you can’t find store-bought marinated goat cheese, no worries because it’s easy to make yourself! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Slice a log of goat cheese into 1/2-inch thick slices.
  2. Drizzle a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil into a small shallow dish and add the goat cheese.
  3. Season with any herbs and aromatics you like. A few ideas are: fresh rosemary and/or thyme, thinly sliced garlic or shallot, cracked black pepper or whole peppercorns, lemon zest, sun-dried tomatoes, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Add about 1/4 cup more oil.
  4. Cover the dish and let the goat cheese marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.

More Easy and Elegant Appetizer Recipes To Try

zucchini appetizer stack with bacon and pine nuts

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Zucchini Stacks with Goat Cheese Recipe (BEST Zucchini Appetizer)

Prep Time8 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Zucchini stacks with goat cheese are the BEST zucchini appetizer with creamy, tangy goat cheese, tender zucchini, and crunchy pine nuts. These stacks are as easy to make as they are delicious and elegant, and they're perfect for a spring or summer gathering!

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Ingredients
 

  • 2 medium-large zucchinis sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 slices beef bacon chopped small
  • 12 rounds herb-marinated goat cheese in olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons sweet green peas
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted until light golden in a dry skillet
  • 2 stalks fresh mint leaves stems discarded

Instructions
 

  • Toss the zucchini with the oil to coat, and cook it until tender but not mushy on the grill or under the broiler. (It takes about 8 minutes under the broiler, flipping once halfway through.) Cool to room temperature.
  • Preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the beef bacon and cook until crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  • To assemble the stacks, place a zucchini round on a plate; top with a goat cheese round, another zucchini round, another goat cheese round, and then a zucchini round on top (so you get 3 layers of zucchini and 2 layers of goat cheese).
  • Sprinkle the bacon, peas, pine nuts, and mint on top of the stack and around the plate. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

  • Net Carbs: 3g per serving (1 stack)
  • Zucchini Tip: Look for zucchini about 2 inches in diameter. You’ll need 18 zucchini rounds for this recipe, so you may have a few extra slices of zucchini that you can use for something else.
  • What Kind of Peas to Use: You can use frozen or fresh peas here. For frozen, thaw the peas under warm running water and drain well. For fresh, blanch the peas for 90 seconds, plunge into ice water, and drain well.
  • Make-Ahead: You can make the zucchini a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Wait to assemble these stacks until right before serving them.

Nutrition

Serving: 1stack | Calories: 107kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 82mg | Potassium: 235mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 242IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Zucchini Appetizer, Zucchini Appetizer Recipe, Zucchini Stacks, Zucchini Stacks Recipe

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zucchini appetizer pin

This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on April 13, 2017 and updated on April 19, 2024.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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8 Comments

  1. What a stunning first course! I can’t get that cheese where I live, unfortunately, but I could always marinate my own goat cheese… Beautiful photos.

  2. My mouth is literally watering. What an incredible flavor combination. And Laura Chenel Goat Cheese = SWOON!

  3. Amanda|The Ktcheneer says:

    Such a stunning appetizer! I adore goat cheese and I know the combo of the cheese plus mint and peas just sounds heavenly!

  4. So prettily presented. A delicious appetiser.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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