√ Make them into soups (corn and zucchini chowder; zucchini Vichyssoise)
√ Use them in vegetable gratins (ratatouille; corn and zucchini pudding)
√ Use them in salad (tomato, chickpea and zucchini)
√ Add them to pasta (linguine, zucchini, garlic, capers, pine nuts)
√ Turn them into a savory tart (zucchini, bacon, goat cheese tart)
√ Turn them into a relish (zucchini and sweet red pepper relish)
Those are just a few ways I use zucchini, that ubiquitous late summer crop that arrives in farmers’ markets and groceries this time of year. For the past few weeks, though, I’ve prepared this versatile vegetable in a new mode inspired by my June stay in Paris. In France’s capital I noticed that chefs were preparing the squash by halving the zucchini lengthwise, then adding imaginative toppings and roasting them. At one Left Bank restaurant (Racines des Prés in the 7th), zucchini halves were mounded with black olives, crumbled feta, and chopped hardboiled eggs and then offered as a first course.
Inspired by these Parisian samplings, I created the following recipe. For my version the zucchini halves are garnished with sautéed onions, cherry tomatoes, and feta. A hint of red pepper flakes adds some heat to the topping, and chopped mint a refreshing accent. I’ve offered these roasted zucchini as a side dish to grilled lamb chops, to hamburgers, and to roast chicken, all to great reviews. But let your imagination be your guide, and feel free to embellish your roasted zucchini with whatever you have on hand.
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Roasted Zucchini Halves Topped with Tomatoes, Feta, and Mint
4 medium zucchini (about 6 to 7 oz each—1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pd total)
About 4 tbsp olive oil plus extra if needed and for the baking pan
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
16 cherry tomatoes (if possible, a combination of red and yellow), halved;quartered if large
4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup crumbled feta
4 tsp chopped mint
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Have ready a large baking pan (a 9 by 13 roasting pan works well) oiled well with olive oil.
2. Trim and discard ends from the zucchini, and then halve them lengthwise. If the flesh of the zucchini is moist, pat dry with paper towels.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add half of the zucchini, flesh sides down. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, turn the zucchini and cook 2 minutes more on the other side. Transfer zucchini, flesh sides up, to the baking pan, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining zucchini, adding more oil if needed.
3. Using the same skillet, add 1 tablespoon or more oil if needed and when hot, add the onions. Cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 21/2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir a minute more. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the tomatoes. Season the mixture with salt to taste.
4. With a spoon, mound the onion and tomatoes over each zucchini half, and drizzle each with 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. (Zucchini can be assembled 2 hours ahead; leave at room temperature loosely covered with foil. Remove foil before roasting.) Roast until zucchini are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 30 to 35 minutes.
5. Remove and sprinkle zucchini with feta and chopped mint. Serve in the roasting pan and lift the zucchini out with a metal spatula. Makes 8 servings.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2017