ZUCCHINI WITH GARLIC, RED PEPPER AND MINT
8 small or 4 medium zucchini (green or yellow varieties), washed
1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar
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1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey, local if possible
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/2-inch wide spears, then trim them to approximately 3 inches in length. Place zucchini on a platter in a single layer and season well with kosher salt on all sides. Transfer to a wire rack or a paper towel-lined surface to drain. Allow to sit for 1 hour. This will draw some of the water out of the squash and also serve as seasoning for the dish.
In a small nonreactive bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon, honey and 1/3 cup olive oil to make the vinaigrette; add salt to taste.
Warm a cast iron skillet over low heat. Pat the zucchini dry.
In the skillet over low heat, warm the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil with the red pepper flakes and the garlic until the garlic is lightly browned. Strain the oil from the skillet and reserve the solids.
Increase the heat to medium, put the flavored oil back in the pan and sear the zucchini until lightly browned on all sides. Turn the heat off and transfer the cooked zucchini to a plate.
Add the reserved garlic and red pepper flakes to the dressing. When the squash has cooled, spoon the vinaigrette over it and top with fresh mint. Serve at room temperature. Yield: 4-6 servings.
“Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons,” by Steven Satterfield, (Harper Wave, 2015)