I’ve always loved zucchini drizzled in olive oil, especially roasted, grilled, or sautéed. It’s flavor is mild, so it’s easy to jazz up with a variety of spices and herbs. Waiting for my turn in the dentist’s chair, I found this recipe while thumbing through the food magazine, Fine Cooking. I tore out the page (no one was looking) and stuck it in my purse. Keto-friendly and delicious, I didn’t need to alter this easy-to-prepare vegetable dish one bit. I was pumped to see the sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe. Love these little red nuggets so much that I’ve been known to eat them right out of the jar.
Botanically speaking, zucchini is classified as a fruit, even though from a culinary context, it’s treated as a vegetable. It’s believed to have been first cultivated in South America, spreading across Middle and North America, and then brought back to Europe by Christopher Columbus. Their name comes from the Italian word for squash, “zucca,” and made its appearance in North America at the turn of the century, most likely brought over by Italian immigrants.
Tons of health benefits with zucchini. It’s a favorite low-carb food: low in calories, high in water content and high in fiber. It’s a good source of vitamins A, B6, B9 (folate) and C, potassium, manganese, as well as alpha and beta-carotene. Much of the nutrients in zucchini are stored in the skin, which also give fresh and cooked zucchini it’s crunch. In my opinion, the 2 things you should never do to zucchini are: overcook it, and remove the skin. There’s nothing worse than staring down at a plateful of limp, watery vegetables. When I make zoodles (zucchini spirals) in place of pasta, I microwave with a drizzle of olive oil for a short time – about 45 seconds per 8 oz serving.
You’ll need a couple of medium zucchinis, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, basil, lemon juice, some sea salt and ground pepper, and the special ingredient – sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. The trick to keeping the zucchini crisp-tender is to sweat out extra moisture before putting in the skillet. After quartering the zucchini lengthwise, you’ll slice off the top layer of soft seed core, then sprinkle with a good amount of salt and wait a solid 10 minutes. Then blot with paper towels and cut the quarters on the diagonal into 3/4 inch-thick diamonds.
Sauté in hot olive oil with minced garlic for about 5 minutes, until the zucchini browns and softens a bit. Remove from heat, toss in sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and a tablespoon of olive oil. Serve immediately.
While this recipe allegedly serves four, Mike and I managed to eat the entire side dish ourselves. It’s so low in carbs, we didn’t hesitate for a moment.
Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil
- 3 small or 2 medium zucchinis about 1 lb.
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt. I use a heaping teaspoon
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped or pressed
- 2 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes drained and finely diced
- 6 fresh basil leaves torn into large pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Wash zucchini and dry with paper towels.
- Trim off the ends, and quarter zucchini lengthwise.
- Running a sharp knife down the length of each quarter, slice off the top 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the soft seed core; it’s all right if some seeds remain.
- Arrange zucchini, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with the salt and set aside for at least 10 minutes. (I use extra salt to pull out as much water as possible). Blot the quarters dry with paper towels. Cut each quarter on the diagonal into 3/4 inch-thick diamonds.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini browns and softens enough that you can cut through it with the side of a fork, about 5 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat, toss in sun-dried tomatoes and basil and season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Serve immediately.