I'm the laziest cook. The type who likes to watch complicated cooking techniques on cooking shows and never replicate them. One who is tired after 10 years of preparing daily family meals. One who likes vegetarian best when someone else cooks it.
One who has fear of zucchini.
Zucchini is originally from the Americas, or so says Wikipedia, but it was the Italians who cultivated many of the varieties we can grow with such abandon in our backyards.
"Mature zucchini can be as large as a baseball bat." - Wikipedia
Zucchini was never a part of my childhood that I remember, and I was not too fond of it when I did find it on my plate as an adult. Of course deep-fried zucchini rounds are good - as good as any deep fried thing you can dip in ranch dressing can be.
But when it comes to using up the zucchini both from my backyard (it was a volunteer of sorts, this year) and from friends' backyards – well, those big batons tend to sit in the vegetable drawer until they are no good for anyone.
This year, determined to eat up the zucchini (and temporarily without access to my grill) I am creating certain recipes to see what I can make fast and fabulously, with zucchini. In today's recipe I used patty pan squash, and not those cute little top-sized squashes, either. It works with yellow crookneck and the long green batons, too, though you'll have more of them. The "steak" aspect is just that the slabs of zucchini can be relatively thick, seasoned as you would a nice steak, and prepared with a combination of quick sauté and broiler finishing.
A note: I haven't had great luck in the past grilling zucchini. It's the same problem I have with asparagus, it tends to dry and burn before it is tender and delicious. I've begun parboiling asparagus for three minutes before I put it on the grill. But this stove-top-to-hot-oven is my solution for zucchini that is tender but with delicious body. If you have other super simple methods please add them in the comments.
The pluses of this recipe are: 1) You can make it in about 15 minutes. 2) It's delicious. 3) The ingredient list is short.
Ingredients: Zucchini of your choice. Salt, pepper, olive or other oil. Spice coating of your choice.
Pre-heat the over/broiler to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice the zucchini thickly - in about 3/4" slices. Sauté at medium-high heat in minimal oil two minutes a side.
Move the slices by spatula to foil lined cookie sheet or your Silpat liner. (I couldn't find mine.)
This is the time to cover the slices in pepper, salt, and an herbed spice coating you've got in the kitchen. Simply Organic are good and many are gluten free. Taco spice mix works fabulously. I used Best Boy Tuscan Herb & Spice Blend today because it is local to where I was.
Cover both sides of the slices, put in the oven for approximately five minutes before turning the slices. Bake/broil the second side about five minutes, or just until the zucchini looks like it's begun to soften and is slightly browned.
These veggie steaks are great with all kinds of garden accompaniments, including the copious cucumber. You can sauce them with something from the fridge, hot sauce, or (my favorite) Italian Balsamic crema.
The sixteen year-old's comment: "I don't like zucchini but those smell really good."
And they are. Bonus: If you experiment with different spice mix coatings, different sauces, and different side dishes, you just might eat your way through half the garden's bounty. Enjoy!