Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zucchini ala Vincenzino

Colorful burst of goodness!

As I've posted, Vincenzino taught me some wonderful dishes when I studied with him on the Amalfi Coast.  This is a favorite - zucchini with heirloom tomatoes and onions.  In the picture with me in the chef's hat on your right, I'm in Vincenzino's kitchen chopping zucchini.  A lot of people comment on my huge NYC kitchen when It's actual Vincenzino's.  My kitchen is your typical NYC shoebox.

The ingredients

When I was waiting tables on Cape Cod during summer breaks when I was in college the restaurant I worked in, The Bishop's Terrace in Harwich, served zucchini bread.  I think that was the last time I had zucchini.  I survived on it for a good part of the summers so the very mention of zucchini made me a bit queasy.  Enough time has passed and now I'm loving zucchini.  And at least it's not in bread this time around. 

Zucchini are hardy and need to be cooked a while

Vincenzo's recipe calls for stir frying the zucchini in a hot skillet.  I cheat a bit and steam them first.  The other night I steamed them for 5 minutes, and they still weren't cooked enough.  When this happens, I just add hot water to the skillet to cook them faster.

While the zucchini steam I start to saute the heirloom cherry tomatoes

Everyone in the pool!

I had some bottled pearl onions that I added at the last minute - they're already cooked so they heat up and dissolve quickly.  Per Vincenzino - add some coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper and nothing else.  The flavors are strong enough to stand on their own.  Note my recipe calls for two tablespoons of olive oil and there's obviously a good deal of liquid in the photo above.  This is because I added water to speed along the process.  The water mixes with the ingredients and makes a nice gravy.

Ready to serve


2 medium zucchini squash per person
1/2 cup heirloom (or regular) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup bottled pearl onions (optional)
2 tbspns extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste


Pre-heat sauté  pan over medium heat.
Add olive oil.
Chop zucchini into cubes.  I cut them in half lenght-wise then cut the 2 halves in half and chop into cubes.  Steaming is optional but if you steam cook them for 5 - 8 minutes.
If you steam the zucchini, sauté  the cherry tomatoes while they steam.  If not, saute the zucchini first for a good five minutes before adding tomatoes.
Once zucchini have steamed drain and add to the pan with the tomatoes.
If desired and if zucchini are taking a bit long two cook add approximately 1/2 cup of hot water. The water will mix with the ingredients and make a nice gravy.
If you have the bottled onions, add them a minute or two before the rest of the dish is finished cooking.  Add salt and pepper.
As zucchini's can vary in size you will have to do a taste test to see when they're done.  Take a few cubes and let cool for a minute on a side plate and taste (you don't want to burn your mouth).

I served the zucchini with, of all things, tuna cerviche.  I will post that recipe tomorrow.

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