Got Zucchini? Here is an easy skillet zucchini recipe with balsamic reduction. And with it, a few tips from my dad on how to buy zucchini!
I started my career in event management. Young. Full of energy. And without regard for work-life balance.
I welcomed the long months of planning, production, and PR work. I lived for the chance to see each event from idea to a full-blown celebration, and I savored the intensity of it all.
It was then, during the many menu planning sessions and conversations with the most talented of chefs, that I realized how passionately I enjoyed food–consuming it and talking about it.
And, it was then that I first heard the term “seasonal cooking.” It took me a good while to understand what that really meant.
Growing up on the shores of the Mediterranean in Egypt, all I knew was seasonal food. Not because my mom made any deliberate efforts to cook in season, but because, at the time, seasonal was all that was available to us.
My dad and I frequented the large souq (farmers’ market) almost on a daily basis. We walked hand-in-hand perusing the fresh souq offerings. Whatever vegetable was readily available on farmers’ stands on a given day, that is what we brought home for dinner. It was cheapest and best.
Without really knowing it, I had been eating “seasonal cooking” since before I could talk.
On our souq excursions, my dad would take the time to teach me things like how to buy zucchini. Zucchini in hand, he would lean toward my ear and say something like, “You want each zucchini to be firm. The skin, vibrant. And it must be smooth, no bumps.” And one more tip, “Select zucchini that appear heavier for their size.”
Although here in the States, zucchini is available all year round, it is best between the months of May and August.
On my last shopping trip, I picked up a few firm and smooth zucchini (dad, you would be proud). And as I stood patiently in the long line to the sweet, chatty cashier, my mind wandered back to a simple zucchini recipe from my early days in event management.
Today’s zucchini recipe is inspired by one of my favorite chefs, Tim England of Grand Rapids, MI. Chef Tim was one who took such delight in cooking with seasonal ingredients, and he made every effort not to mask their natural taste. For a small dinner I managed with him (the year must have been 2004), next to a succulent lamb rib, Chef Tim chose to serve a humble side of skillet zucchini tossed in a little olive oil. I don’t remember if he garnished the zucchini with a special herb or a little grated parmesan. But it was delicious!
For today’s version of skillet zucchini, I added a drizzle of balsamic reduction which brought out the sweetness of the zucchini. Then I finished with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds and dried mint flakes.
Here is the step-by-step for this easy skillet zucchini recipe
In a saucepan, heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Bring the vinegar to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 20 minutes to reduce. Remove from heat and let the vinegar thicken as it cools.
Meanwhile, in a large nonstick pan or skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on high. Saute the zucchini rounds in the heated oil for 3-4 minutes until golden-brown on the bottom. Sprinkle lightly with seasoned salt, then flip over and repeat. If needed, saute the zucchini in batches and add more olive oil. Remove the zucchini from the skillet and place on a platter lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil, more if needed
- 3 medium-sized zucchini, sliced in 1/4″-thick rounds
- 1 tsp seasoning salt, more if needed
- Black sesame seeds for garnish
- Dried mint flakes
- In a saucepan, heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Bring the vinegar to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 20 minutes to reduce. Remove from heat and let the vinegar thicken as it cools.
- Meanwhile, in a large nonstick pan or skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on high. Saute the zucchini rounds in the heated oil for 3-4 minutes until golden-brown on the bottom. Sprinkle lightly with seasoned salt, then flip over and repeat. If needed, saute the zucchini in batches and add more olive oil. Remove the zucchini from the skillet and place on a platter lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
- Transfer the zucchini to a serving platter or dish. Drizzle with the prepared balsamic reduction. Garnish with black sesame seeds and dried mint flakes. Enjoy warm or at room temperature!
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