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August 16, 2010

Drowning in Zucchini? Try This Simple Sauté

Every week I head into town to pick up my CSA share, and every week I’m shocked to find an even bigger bag of zucchini than I found the week before. Will this bonanza ever taper off? How will I eat, freeze, and dry it all before it spoils?

I’ve been looking for new and interesting ways to prepare zucchini. Recently I threw together this simple Italian-inspired meal. It’s simple and easy, like summer cooking should be, but using freshly-picked, perfectly-ripe produce provides a burst of flavor and color.

summer vegetable saute

For this dish you’ll want to go to the farm stand and buy the darkest, juiciest, ugliest tomatoes you can find. In my experience, tomatoes that look like they are making faces at you taste the best. If your herb garden is in full swing, you can replace dried herbs with fresh at a ratio of 3:1. If you sauté the vegetables and make the polenta simultaneously, you’ll have dinner ready in 20 minutes.

Summer Vegetable Sauté
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 4 cups)
4 large heirloom tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
2 cups cooked cannellini beans, rinsed
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Basic Polenta
3½ cups water
1 cup yellow polenta
2 bay leaves
Dash of salt

Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add zucchini and cover skillet.

Remove lid and stir every 2-3 minutes. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until zucchini slices are soft but still holding together. Stir in chopped tomatoes (including seeds and liquid), beans, thyme, oregano, basil, and salt.

Bring mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes, until tomatoes are very soft and broken up. Serve over polenta. Top with freshly ground black pepper.

To prepare polenta, boil water in a medium pot. Stir in polenta, bay leaves, and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Stir constantly for 2 minutes as polenta thickens, then stir every minute or so for 10 minutes, until polenta is uniformly thick and smooth.

Spoon onto plates or into bowls. Polenta takes the shape of its container as it cools, so store any leftovers in a baking dish or other vessel that will allow you to cut polenta into slices.

Makes 4 generous servings.

Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian blogger: Mitten Machen.

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