We are still enjoying zucchini season at full throttle - how ‘bout you? It seems that this often under-rated squash needs a bit of a make-over from time to time, so when I saw this recipe for Seared Zucchini with Parmesan and Black Pepper in @nytcooking, I did a double take. We’ve had this dish twice this week - when I find something I love, I’ll eat it ’til the cows come home, or I’ve had enough of it, whichever comes first.
See those nuggets and strings of cheese? That’s toasted pepper, plus melted butter, plus freshly grated Parm added to a hot pan which makes it get all gooey and chewy. You end up with these bursts of flavor and texture with every bite. This, friends, is a keeper! xoxo Kirsty
Ingredients (serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
12 oz. (340g) baby zucchini or 1-2 regular zucchini
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup torn mint and/or basil leaves
Flaky sea salt
Wedge of lemon to finish (optional)
If you’re using baby zucchini, halve them lengthways. If you’re using regular zucchini, trim the ends and slice them lengthways into 5-6 slices around 1/4-inch (6mm) thick.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high for 2 minutes. Add one tablespoon of the oil, when it shimmers, salt the zucchini and add it cut-side down in one layer (you may need to do this in two batches), and cook, undisturbed, until it begins to turn golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. It is very important not to salt the zucchini too early, wait until you’re heating the pan, otherwise it will draw out too much moisture. You can flip over and cook the zucchini 2-3 minutes more on the other side, but I prefer to cook just one side so the dish has more bite to it. You do you! Remove from the pan and set aside on a serving platter; repeat with remaining zucchini.
While the second batch cooks, add the pepper to a small saucepan and toast over medium heat until it becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and stir until the butter melts. Remove from heat, quickly add the grated cheese and stir vigorously to prevent the cheese from sticking to the bottom of the pan. It will melt in spots, it will crisp in spots and it will form frico-like clumps, which is totally acceptable!
Spoon the cheesy, peppery, butter over the seared zucchini, making sure to catch all the black pepper and fried cheese bits, and sprinkle with the herbs. Season with flaky salt, and finish with a squeeze of lemon if you would like.