Test Recipe: Sauteed Zucchini with Mushrooms
When I came home last night, Tina informed me that she had already eaten dinner and wasn't hungry. So, I went outside and started my grill planning to throw on a New York (top loin strip) steak. Looking inside my refrigerator, I tried to devise a quick side dish that would get her to come join me while I ate dinner. Tina loves flavorful vegetables, so when I saw the zucchini and button mushrooms, I knew I could whip up something in the time it takes my steak to cook.
Zucchini, also called Italian squash, is a summer squash that is available year round. The term summer squash refers to the fact that the entire squash can be eaten (where a winter squash has a tough shell that is discarded). Many markets will sell small zucchini (four inches long) under then name "zucchini" while selling the more mature larger ones as "Italian squash". Both are the same variety, but at different maturities. The smaller zucchini tends to be more flavorful and is easier to cook. The larger zucchini have larger seeds and seed cavity. This makes it easier to over cook the zucchini into a mushy consistency.
Buy zucchini that is firm to the touch (if it feels soft, that means it is deteriorating) and no more than eight inches in length. Larger zucchini may have seeds that provide an unwanted texture in your dishes (but are excellent for stuffing). Wash the zucchini with a soft brush to remove the tiny bristles on the surface (they don't bother some people, but they irritate my hands).
While the grill was heating, I washed the two zucchini that I had (about eight inches in length each), chopped off the ends, and discarded them (the ends, not the squash). I then cut the zucchini lengthwise twice and chopped into quarter inch sections. I cleaned about 4 ounces of button mushrooms (cremini would probably add more flavor to the recipe, but this is what I had on hand) and sliced them. I grabbed a french shallot and minced about one tablespoon worth.
After running outside and slapping my New York steak on the grill (with celery salt, table salt, and white pepper), I came back in and heated a skillet with one tablespoon olive oil. When the oil stated to shimmer, I threw in the minced shallot and kept it moving in the pan until evenly browned.
Turning the heat to medium-low, I threw the sliced mushrooms on, tossed them so the oil evenly coated them, and went outside to flip the steak. Upon returning, I sprinkled a dash (two pinches or 1/8 teaspoon) of kosher salt over the mushrooms. After a few seconds, I tossed them again so the other sides would brown a little. Once a decent amount of liquid had evaporated from the mushrooms, I added the chopped squash to the pan, sprinkling on an additional dash of salt. I also went outside to move the steak to the lower heat side of my grill to finish.
Turning the heat back up to medium-high, I allowed the squash to cook, tossing them every ten or fifteen seconds. (At one point, I went outside to remove the steak from the grill and let it sit for the juices to redistribute.) Once some of the zucchini picked up some brown caramelized bits, I turned off the fire and poured the vegetables into a bowl.
I took the bowl, walked over to Tina, and held it close enough for her to smell. She joined me for dinner.
Sauteed Zucchini with Mushrooms (serves two)
|1 lb. zucchini, chopped||sautee (med-high)|
|4 oz. button mushrooms, sliced||cook (med-low)|
|1 Tbs. minced shallots||brown|
|1 Tbs. olive oil|
|1/8 tsp. kosher salt|
|1/8 tsp. kosher salt|