April 28, 2020
This dish takes me back, WAY back. Picture this: It's the 80's in New Jersey and it's all about big hair, big perms, and big crushes. These were the precious moments of first boyfriends and first kisses, long summer days, wine coolers, stretchy jeans, and barbecues. Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" blared on the radio, and there was much fun to be had getting into trouble with my best friend Margaret. I spent a lot of time at Margaret's house and was lucky to get to taste her Sicilian mother, Nella's, delicious food. One of my favorite things she made was a simple, braised zucchini dish. I'm pretty sure I mopped it up with crusty Italian bread like it was going outta style and I'm also pretty sure Margaret and her family were wondering about this girl who kept having second and third helpings of dinner. I guess I felt comfortable enough to just dive in? I'll go with that. My mother is an amazing cook (I will be posting some of her most popular recipes for sure) but sometimes it's just that much more special to be at dinner at your friend's house with not a care in the world. The zucchini are the star here. Everything works perfectly together to compliment the mild, sweet squash flavor. This is a perfect summer dish, but also a perfect anytime dish when you want to make something light and delicious that takes very little time and forethought. You could also easily turn this into a main course by tossing with some rice or pasta. Oh, and don't forget to have some of that crusty bread on hand to mop up the juices.
Thanks to Margaret and her mom Nella for sharing the recipe with me all of these years later.
Ingredients: 1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil 3 medium zucchini, washed, trimmed and peeled 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin 1 or 2 plum tomatoes, chopped salt and pepper to taste handful fresh basil leaves a squeeze of fresh lemon juice Method: Cut the zucchini into pieces about 2 inches long (however you want to get there is fine). Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat for just a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and zucchini and cook for another few minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper and cover the pan. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it doesn't look like the zucchini are releasing much liquid and the mixture looks very dry, add 1/4 of water. I personally like my zucchini to be very tender and almost about to fall apart but if you're not like me, check it at 15 minutes and go from there. Once the zucchini are at the consistency that you like, remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the salt, throw in the fresh basil leaves, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice and mix gently. Serve! WITH CRUSTY BREAD!