From The Garden: Sauteed Zucchini


By Torrie Sessions

Now that we’ve covered the basics around how to feed your zucchini and squash, let’s switch gears a bit, and chat about a topic of equal importance… how to feed yourself with this quintessential summer vegetable.  Mastering zucchini in the garden is a feat any novice would be delighted to achieve.  But the unexpected delight (or dilemma) is the ability to master zucchini in the kitchen.  Here’s a little secret that the “experts” fail to mention.  When you get it… boy, do you get it.  Ever heard the phrase “drowning in zucchini?”  Well, believe me.  Before you know it, summer’s abundance will be right in your very own back yard, just waiting for you to savor.  [Note:  If you’re still unconvinced, Google it.]  

Fortunately, the amazing mild nature, tender character, and subtly sweet essence of this abundant vegetable make for a wealth of versatility when it comes to cooking, pairing, or just cutting it up and tossing with other seasonal delights.  But above all else, it’s the low maintenance factor that puts it at the top of my ‘what to make list on an almost-daily basis.  It naturally pairs with almost everything else in your summer garden, can be easily stored and prepped, and needs no more than a little salt, a dab of butter or a drizzle of olive oil, and a few fresh herbs to shine bright on your plate.

From steaming, to sautéing, to grilling, frying, or roasting… from succotash to ratatouille, to sweet breads, frittatas, or pancakes…  With a few easy techniques and simple recipes under your belt, you’ll use up that harvest in no time.

Here’s a very [very] easy one to get you started.

*First, a few quick tips.

Zucchini has a high water content, which means that it can quickly turn from tender to soggy.  Here’s how to avoid this:  1) thin slices, 2) single layering (if cooking more than a couple of zucchini, cook it in batches- or in two separate pans so that your pan is not over-crowded), 3) fairly high heat, and 4) minimal stirring.  These methods will ensure quick and even cooking (tender, but not mushy), with a nice golden brown color.

{slightly adapted from Real Simple (February 2008)}

Sautéed Zucchini

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)

4 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick coins

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp fresh oregano, basil, or thyme

Salt and pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the zucchini and cook, stirring twice, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and zucchini. Return the first batch of zucchini, along with the garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Cook, tossing gently, until the garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Once you’ve got the basic technique down, you can always build on it, with onions (any and all kinds), peppers, corn, tomatoes, and more.  Or, you can keep it simple, set the apron aside, and enjoy a little extra fun in the sun.

Photo credit: Torrie Sessions

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  • Danielle

    RBB hates zucchini but it’s one of my favs!!! Yum.

    • pinkmoondaily

      That is so funny! I generally don’t like it either, but then every once and while someone prepares it beautifully and I’m surprised by how much I like it. Seems like such a benign veggie and yet people have really strong opinions about it.