I’m always trying to find different ways to prepare zucchini, as we both love it so much. One of my favorite recipes is a simple stir-fry like this one, but the timing (and the size of your pan) must be just right, as a slight variation will result in overcooked, limp zucchini, with no bite whatsoever.  This recipe from Fine Cooking follows a totally different path to the stir-fry happy-ending.  Pieces of zucchini are lightly salted and sit for 10 minutes, a process that will draw out a lot of moisture and the bitterness that might turn some people off.  After that, you will be on your way to a tasty side dish.

(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine #65)

2 medium zucchini
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt + more for seasoning
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely diced
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced

Wash the zucchini and dry them with paper towels. Trim off the ends and quarter the zucchini lengthwise. Arrange the zucchini, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with the salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Blot the quarters dry with the paper towels. Cut each quarter on the diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick pieces.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Pour in 2 Tbs. of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini browns and softens enough that you can cut through it with the side of a fork, about 5 min. Take the pan off the heat, toss in the sun-dried tomatoes and basil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the lemon juice and  serve immediately.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I have a bit of a troubled relationship with sun-dried tomatoes.  The ones that come packed in oil are often too greasy for my taste, but their texture is much better than the dry-packed ones. My approach is to buy the ones in oil, and before incorporating in the dish let them rest on a piece of kitchen paper to blot the excess oil away.

Fresh tomatoes would not deliver the same punch of flavor.  Sun-dried tomatoes are similar to red pepper flakes, instead of having their flavor uniformly diluted across the dish, they give you little spikes of heat.  Perfect!

This was a delicious way to prepare zucchini, yet another recipe that can be adapted in many ways.  Try adding roasted red bell pepper in place of sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro instead of basil, a bit of mint…  Don’t omit the lemon juice, though.  It is a must!

ONE YEAR AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

TWO YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

THREE YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

FOUR YEARS AGO: Love me tender…


  1. I don’t always sautee zucchini, but when I do, I salt it first – Dos Equis, anyone? 😉

    side note: Phil once went to a party as “the most interesting man in the world” – he had a beard then, and looked quite like him


  2. Hi Sally! Well wouldn’t you know I just picked up some zucchini from the store! I have never heard of the salting method before but now I’ll get to try it. Perfection! Thank you for sharing!


  3. Hi Sally! This looks like a beautifully delicious dish. I have always salted zucchini before grilling them, but now I will have to try it before sautéing! Once I have zucchini’s ready to harvest in my garden I will make this yummy dish.


    • Interesting… I always grill my zucchini without any special preparation – gotta try after salting, particularly if I cut the slices a bit thicker, I can see how that would improve the texture


      • I love the flavor that you get after seasoning and grilling zucchini. I have sliced the zucchini either really thin or nice and chunky, tossed with salt and olive oil, left to sit for about 10-20 minutes, and then grilled! Delicious just by themselves.


  4. I’ve never heard of salting zucchini first, Sally. Then again, my family rarely salted eggplant before using but I do enjoy zucchini. If salting will improve its texture, I’m all for it. Thanks for the tip!


  5. I’m loving the new look of your blog Sally! Fried zucchini is one of my favorites but I’ve yet to try it with basil… I just had the most sumptuous basil curry last night (yup, we take out a lot these days ;-)) and those accents of licorice are simply to die for — there’s nothing quite like it. I agree, for this type of recipe, sun-dried tomatoes deliver more intensity plus they look so great in the mix – fiery and inviting. Yum!


  6. You know I too have that issue with oil packed sundried tomatoes. I actually go so far as to rinse them under water then pat them dry. Or I reduce the amount of oil in the recipe that they are going in. It’s seemed to work so far. This is a delightful and fresh side dish. I just had a zucchini “pasta” the other day. They had cut the zucchini into ribbons and served it with a light marinara sauce. I’m thinking you would love it!


    • Oh, that zucchini pasta dish sounds amazing, and what a coincidence it is that you mentioned – I was just searching for recipes to use zucchini cut in spirals – with a Japanese blade slicer, pretty cool gadget. A light marinara sauce might be just what’s needed!


  7. Hi Sally! I was your group D secret recipe club partner,and I chose this recipe to accompany some roast chicken and roast potatoes for a lazy Sunday lunch in France! Lovely blog and lovely recipe! Karen


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