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Sunday, 9 October 2011

Pan-Fried Courgette or Zucchini

Pan-Fried Courgette or Zucchini

I don’t know why we Brits call them courgettes while the rest of the world calls them zucchini, but there you are.  Either way, and by either name, I never used to be much of a fan; I found them bland and uninteresting.  Steamed or boiled, they are watery and insipid, and I only ever used them, reluctantly, as a kind of bulking vegetable, in pasta sauces and ratatouille.  And then I came found this method; cooked this way, they have become one of my favourite vegetables.  So, here’s how to cook the perfect pan-fried zucchini, or courgette.

The essence of the dish is to fry very slowly, so that much of the wateriness is cooked out, and so that the courgette/zucchini can absorb the buttery, garlicky flavours while gently developing golden, caramelized patches.

You will need a frying pan wide enough to accommodate all the courgette slices in one layer.

Pan-Fried Courgette or Zucchini: ingredients

Two or three Courgettes or Zucchini, unpeeled, sliced into rings about the thickness of a typical biscuit or cookie.
Enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, with some more in reserve.
Butter, a tablespoon or so
One to three cloves of garlic, depending on size and your own taste, peeled and crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A tablespoon or so of finely chopped fresh herbs of your choice: tarragon, thyme or basil suggest themselves here.

Pan Fried Courgette or Zucchini: method

Put the pan onto a gentle heat, add the oil.  Once the oil has heated through, add the courgette/zucchini slices in one layer.  Turn from time to time, adding a little more oil if necessary, until the vegetable has begun to soften; this may take twenty minutes to half an hour.  Now add the butter, the garlic, the herbs and the salt and pepper.  Continue to cook for another ten to fifteen minutes until the courgette/zucchini is really soft and almost falling apart.  Juggle the heat if necessary so that golden, toasty, patches develop, but take care not to let the butter or garlic burn.

Serve as a side dish, or on toast, or cold as a dip.

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