Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sauteed Zucchini

The Incredibly Over-productive Zucchini Monster

The Cocozelle zucchini plants are really pumping out the zukes. I sent a bag of just picked zucchini home with a visiting friend (she really did want them) along with a bag of Senposai (the zucchini equivalent in the world of leafy greens). But that still left me with a bagful of zucchini from a previous picking. So last night I made a zucchini sautee that my husband told me I had to make again. I wasn't really keeping track of amounts, but I remember approximately how much I used and the basic method.

I think what was really important to the dish was the fresh ingredients. Even though the zucchini had been picked a couple of days before it was still really crisp. I used garlic that had been pulled just a few days before, the skin on the cloves had not dried yet. But the star ingredient was probably the fresh tender new bay leaves. I have a couple of Laurus nobilis plants growing in pots that are putting out lovely new growth now. The new leaves can be chopped and added to dishes, no need to remove them. But it's not just the tenderness of the new leaves that make them special, the flavor and aroma of the new leaves is spicier and more aromatic, yet more delicate than mature leaves. Fresh mature bay leaves are far superior to dried bay leaves, but the young leaves even leave those in the dust. I like to pick the new leaves when they have reached full size but while they are still tender. I wouldn't recommend using California Bay (Umbellularia californica), I find the flavor to be too harsh.

True Bay (Laurus nobilis)

Zucchini Sautee

--Olive oil, at least 2 tablespoons
--1/2 of a huge sweet onion (Vidalia), about 1/2 pound, cut into thin slices about 1-inch long
--a heaping tablespoon of salted capers, chopped, no need to rinse
--3 fresh new bay leaves, cut across the rib into fine shreds
--2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
--6 to 8 fresh young zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
--a handful of chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
--lemon juice (Meyer)
--salt and pepper to taste
--grated parmigiano

Heat the olive oil in a large sautee pan over medium heat. Add the onion, turn the heat to high and quickly sautee the onion, stirring constantly, until it starts to turn golden. Turn the heat down to medium and add the capers, bay leaves, and garlic. Sautee until the garlic turns translucent, stirring constantly, the pan will still be very hot so it cooks quickly. Add the zucchini to the pan and stir to combine with the onion mixture. Continue to cook, stirring every minute or so, until the zucchini is tender (about 10 minutes). Stir in the parsley, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano.

Serves at least 4.

Leftover sauteed zucchini (any recipe) is great in a frittata.


  1. Sounds delicious! I will try it! Wish I had a Bay Tree! :-( Val

  2. This sounds delicious! And fresh bay leaves are good, too. It's always good to have another recipe for courgettes (zucchini) because when they start coming, they come in huge quantities! We have this 'problem' too at the moment.

  3. Mmm. I have a small bay plant, but it's in an out of the way spot and I always forget to pick the leaves! I should see if it has any new growth, something was nibbling the leaves this spring. I think they should sell zucchini seeds in 3's instead of a huge pack. Who can eat all those zukes!? Nice of you to share, and also share your wonderful recipe.

  4. Love that you felt the need to clarify your friend really DID want a share of your zucchini harvest, as in some circles, fresh zucchini has about as much appeal as Christmas fruitcake!

    There is a hilarious chapter in one of Garrison Keeler's Lake Woebegone books about folks sneaking around in the dead of night and leaving bags of zucchini, corn or tomatoes on neighbor's doorsteps because they just couldn't stand to eat anymore. Personally, with my shady garden, I'd welcome neighbors like that!

  5. Susan, I always ask before giving away zucchini. I had a different friend turn me down just this afternoon, she already has some... LOL

    There was a similar story in Saveur magazine years ago about a town in Colorado where people locked their car doors during zucchini season, and only during zucchini season, because friends would leave zukes in their cars. There's a good recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake in that issue - available on their website.

  6. Wow. I have never heard about using young bay leaves. Guess I'll have to keep track of Mr. Bay Laurel out front.


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