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.
SAUTEED ZUCCHINI WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND BASIL
(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.
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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!
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