If you’ve got a garden, a CSA box, or just try to buy seasonally, you’re awash with zucchinis right now, and maybe even the more exotic summer squashes–orb-shaped, pattypan, crookneck, or something resembling a UFO. Like you, I’m always trying to find ways to deal with it all. I consider it at a minimum a good deed and perhaps worthy of some small amount of karma to share ideas for using this bounty, and so here I am. With a recipe that uses 3 pounds worth of your midsummer windfall.
As I confessed last year (yes, click that link for another recipe) I’m not always the biggest booster of summer squash. At its worst, it’s waterlogged, perhaps a bit slimy, and in those vegetable “medleys” seems to impart an overcooked taste to otherwise well-prepared meals. But it can be as fresh tasting as a summer vegetable should be if prepared right. For me, one of the tricks is salting to draw out excess liquid.
It seems a bit counterintuitive that this should be the case: we want our produce to be bursting with juices, not old, curmudgeonly, and wizened. And zucchini’s juices aren’t necessarily objectionable in and of themselves, and that liquid in fact is what makes zucchini breads and muffins moist and delicious. Contrast this with eggplant where salting importantly extracts bitterness. With many savory preparations of zucchini, however, I think it’s a matter of improving the texture. Less water in your vegetable ultimately means less mushiness, and it allows the flavors of everything you’re cooking that zucchini with to absorb into the squash’s flesh. When that’s tomatoes and marjoram melding with your zucchini, you’ve got something good on your hands.
This makes an easy side dish (I’m thinking a simple steak with oregano and olive oil). Or if you have good crusty bread around to mop up the summer flavors, a nice light meal.
- 3lb zucchini or any mix of summer squash
- salt (preferably kosher)
- 2-3T olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 28-ounce can tomatoes (if not already chopped, chop before adding to recipe, reserving the juice for the recipe as well)
- 1/4t dried marjoram (1t fresh)
- one onion, finely chopped
Slice the zucchini as thinly as possible, then layer in a colander, sprinkling salt as you go. Place over the sink, toss a bit to distribute the salt, and then allow to drain for at least 20 minutes, or longer if you wish. While you wait, you can begin preparing the remainder of the recipe. Note that when you are done draining, you should taste the zucchini before proceeding with the next step to gauge how much salt remains–you may need to pat it dry or lightly rinse. If only slightly oversalted, this is fine but adjust the salt later in the recipe to take this into account.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Heat the olive oil, then add the onion when hot. Cook over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and marjoram, cook for 30 seconds, and add the chopped tomatoes. If ready, you can add the zucchini at this point. Or you can allow the zucchini to drain further and just simmer this tomato-onion sauce over medium low.
Stir in the zucchini, and cook over the stove for about five minutes. Then put in the oven, without a lid, and bake until the zucchini is tender and its juices have baked away. This generally takes about 20-30 minutes for me, but as long as your zucchini is tender to your liking, you’re good to go.
Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Nice to eat with crusty bread which sops up the juices.