A gardener friend once said that if she were ever a castaway on a deserted island she would want to have a squash seed with her. One seed and she could grow a large vine and plenty of food! If you’ve ever grown zucchini in your garden you know what she meant. A healthy zucchini vine provides an abundance of delicious fruit. And yes, zucchini, a summer or soft squash, is technically a fruit although we treat it as a vegetable and serve it most often in savory dishes.
I love young zucchini sautéed lightly, so its sweet flavor and slightly firm texture can be appreciated. You must be diligent in harvesting all summer squash as well as cucumbers in order to eat them when they are young, crisp, and tender. The fruits are easily hidden under the vine leaves; a day or so of additional time on the vine and they’ve added an inch or so of growth. Larger squash and cucumbers will still be tasty but will have a different taste and texture.
For this simple zucchini recipe I used young zucchini about 4″ long. I trimmed the ends off each squash and then cut them lengthwise. Next, I lay them flat on the cutting board and cut them in to 1/4″ lengths. I had some lovely young red onions, too, so I prepared them in the same way. Shallots would also work quite well in this dish.
I chose mint cut in a chiffonade to season the dish. My inspiration was a memory of a summer evening in Rome, where mint is very popular. I think it’s perfect with young zucchini. I hope you enjoy it as well. Here’s to summer and staying ahead of the zucchini crop!
To make the chiffonade, first layer some fresh mint leaves in a small stack. Then cut across the leaves in very thin slices. This will give you long, thin pieces of mint.
Sautéed Zucchini with Mint
- 1 pound small to medium zucchini
- 2 ounces young onion or shallot, chopped
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint chiffonade
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
If you are lucky enough to have small, young zucchini, cut them as I did above, lengthwise and then across in 1/4″ slices. If your zucchini are a bit larger, cut them on a diagonal into 1/4″ slices. And then julienne (cut) them into 1/4″ wide strips.
Warm the oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the onions or shallots and garlic and cook until the onions or shallots are translucent. Add the zucchini, stirring well to coat with the oil. With the smaller zucchini you can simple sauté until done. With larger zucchini cover the pot and and cook for 3-5 minutes. Test for doneness. I like the young zucchini just hot through, but still somewhat crisp. Larger zucchini I like to cook until it is somewhat soft. When cooked to your liking, stir in the mint. The heat of the zucchini will wilt it. That is all you want. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.