Monday, June 20, 2011

Sautéed Summer Squash Julienne with Garlic, Hot Pepper Flakes, Lemon and Shaved Parmagiana

Summer squash season makes me sad. Mostly because there are mounds and mounds of BEAUTIFUL shapes and colors of summer squash all over the place. Why am I sad amidst such a bounty?

Because I mostly hate summer squash. I don't mind it raw, diced up in a salad, diced small and sautéed in a smoking hot pan for a blink of an eye or (duh!) zucchini bread. It's when it is in chunks and cooked until it's soft and watery (I blame the seeds) that I start to hate it. A lot. I loved "Ratatouille" but do not like the dish. [Note: based on this recipe, the previous sentence is no longer true.]

A few weeks ago I saw Jacques Pépin make a yellow and green zucchini 'spaghetti'. He cut off each side - down to but not including the seed cores, julienned the planks and sautéed those fast, in a hot pan. I would trust Jacques Pépin with my very life so I thought I'd give it a shot. Now, I don't like wasting food. I use my produce scraps for stock that I will either use immediately or freeze and the only time the scraps go into the compost bin is when the freezer door becomes difficult to close. I save the heels of hard cheese to thrown into soups and stews. I use the water in which I cooked the chickpeas to cook the barley, and then I throw my onion/leek, carrot and celery produce scraps in that to make a broth.

Throwing the seedy cores of a couple of zucchinis into the compost bin? Zero guilt.

I didn't cut my own julienne, I used a Messermeister julienne-ing thingy. Worked like a charm. There are other small tools out there that are advertised as doing the same but this is the only one I've used and I'm happy with it and yes, my mandoline still scares me a little which is why I didn't use that. The Messermeister cut really beautiful, delicate julienne - and it's easier to clean up than the mandoline.

The ones I cut by hand were a little more like linguine but I think would have been just fine. Thinking after the fact, if I had hand-cut them, I might have cut thin slices, down to the core on each side, stacked those and then cut the strips - resulting in a more consistent julienne. The process using the peeler was very, very fast.
Messermeister julienne-ing thingy (left) and hand-cut julienne (right)
 Will I make it again? Absolutely. Next time I'll pan-roast some cherry tomatoes too. I think it would taste great hot or at room temperature. Top with shrimp? Tofu? Yes and yes. This has possibilities.

Recipe: Sautéed Summer Squash Julienne with Garlic, Pepper Flakes, Lemon and Shaved Parmagiana

Inspired by Jacques Pépin
Serves one for lunch or two as a side.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil + extra to drizzle on the finished dish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (may be increased, decreased or left out if you're not fond of heat)
  • 2 summer squash (about 6" long each and 1" in diameter), thoroughly washed and julienned (including the skin) - not including the seed core.
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • Parmigiana or another hard aged cheese (romano, grana padana, asiago, etc.) to shave or grate on top of the finished dish.
Method:
  • Heat the olive oil in a 10" or 11" sauté pan or skillet on medium. When the oil shimmers, add the minced garlic and let it cook for a minute. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for until the garlic is a light straw-color. 
  • Turn up the heat to medium high and add the julienned zucchini, stir to pick up the garlic from the bottom of the pan and toss to coat the zucchini and distribute the garlic and red pepper flakes.
  • After a minute, taste a couple of strands of the zucchini - it should be tender (pliable) but still feel a little crisp under your teeth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If it's not done yet, cook one more minute - tossing the zucchini to keep it moving and taste again.
  • Take it off the heat, squeeze the juice of the 1/2 lemon and toss to combine.
  • Plate immediately. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and shave or grate some of the cheese over top.

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