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sautéed zucchini with dried basil and almonds
When I make a zucchini side dish recipe, I always wonder if it will beat my mom’s delicious—and super simple—recipe, made with just four simple ingredients: freshly chopped zucchini, a bit of water, a dash of vegetable broth and thinly sliced garlic, all steamed for 5 minutes until just slightly crunchy. Honestly, when you’re in a rush to cook dinner for your family, why would you go through a long list of ingredients and cooking techniques to obtain the same taste that you would have achieved in a blink of an eye?
Although I love my mom’s recipe and have cooked it a zillion times, the other night I wanted to try something new, something different, maybe with a bit more crisp and a bit more oomph. And so, I thought about the French cooking method of sautéing instead of steaming and got inspired by one of 101 Cookbook‘s recipes. I chopped my zucchini away into thick slices, added some garlic cloves, a big red onion, sautéed all the ingredients in relatively little oil on high heat, and topped the vegetables with toasted almonds and dried basil. And boy, was it good. So good that I had to share it with you.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 big red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced into thick coins
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- ¼ cup almond slices, toasted
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F
- Slice the zucchini into thick coins, about 0.5cm/0.2 inches is perfect. Make sure not to chop them too thin or they will quickly burn on the skillet, but don’t slice them too thick either or if not they'll take much longer to cook. Thinly slice the red onion and garlic cloves. 101 Cookbook’s recipe calls for much more garlic, but as I enjoy garlic in only small quantities, I cut the amount significantly. Feel free to use up to 5 garlic cloves if you’d like.
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in the biggest skillet you have. Sauté the onion slices first until they start to get a hint of color. Given that garlic burns really fast, add the slices just before you’re ready to sauté the zucchini. Sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds, or until they get a hint of color. Add in the zucchini, stirring the slices until they are well coated in oil, and then arrange the slices in a single and flattest layer as you can. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper and let cook for about 10 minutes.
- Make sure to watch the zucchini so that it doesn’t burn. Decrease the heat slightly if needed. Once the zucchini browns on one side, turn the coins over, and let them cook for another 10 minutes until they brown on that side as well.
- While the zucchini is cooking, prepare a baking sheet and spread out the almond slices. Cook in the preheated oven for 2-3 minutes until slightly brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Remove zucchini from heat when ready and mix in the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Move the zucchini to a serving platter and top with almonds.