This past Saturday, I went a little crazy with the produce, including picking up three types of summer squash from the organic Rempel Family Farm stand at the South Anchorage Farmers Market. Ridged Italian Costata Romanesco and creamy yellow zucchini, which is very much a heat seeker, should, according to Mark Rempel, be available through the summer until the first frost. Summer squash is versatile — take a vegetable peeler to make thin long strips for a veg carpaccio topped with good olive oil, lemon, and fresh herbs, and perhaps a scraping of Parmesan cheese. Or grate for sweet or savory cakes or cornbread. Throw on the grill and toss with salty feta and pumpkin seeds for a quick side dish.
This treatment, slow-cooked with lemon and olive oil, goes against how I mostly treat tender summer vegetables — either enjoying them raw in salads and dressings or quickly sautéing or grilling them, as noted above. But, like with ratatouille, the zucchini cooks down into a confit, a jam-like consistency. You could lean more toward the traditional dish and add onion and eggplant, tomato, etc., but I love the simplicity of focusing on the zucchini in all its glory. Delicious warm or room temp or even chilled, try it with crusty bread for dipping into the sauce or serve with fresh mozzarella or over ricotta; alongside eggs for brunch or with grilled salmon or steak.
Zucchini and lemon confit
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 1/2 pounds zucchini
Juice of 2 large lemons (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence (optional)
4 to 6 cloves garlic
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 small tomato (4 ounces) optional
Black or green olives (optional)
Cut zucchini into 1/2-inch circles or half-moons. Place lemon juice, olive oil and ½ cup water in a wide, preferably shallow pan; add the zucchini slices, thyme, rosemary, herbes de Provence, if using, garlic and about 3/4 teaspoon salt and some cracks of fresh black pepper.
Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer (you’ll see tiny bubbles just on the surface); cover with a lid and let cook on low 25 minutes. Uncover and stir. Taste and add more salt or pepper, as needed. Let cook, uncovered, another 25 to 30 minutes, uncovered, and stirring occasionally, until tender and jammy. Serve warm or at room temp. Or place in a clean, sterile jar and store in refrigerator up to two weeks.
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