There is something about fresh herbs from the garden.
Some of you may know about the garden I planted this past spring. It’s been a fun adventure tending to and keeping it thriving through the incredibly hot summer days here in NC. A few of my potted herbs bit the dust (adios dill and cilantro!) while others have grown like weeds. ‘Tis the season for tomatoes! I’m currently glancing outside my kitchen window counting 17 shiny green tomatoes. That will be a fun harvest!
Although I did not grow zucchini this year, I seem to always have it on hand. It’s just one of those kitchen staples that I never get sick of. A few weeks ago I wanted to get a little creative with the excess of basil and mint that was sitting in a vase of water on my kitchen counter. I thought, what better way to bring out the summery freshness of zucchini than with vibrant herbs?
I love the combo of basil and mint. Many Vietnamese and other Asian cultures include these herbs together in their cuisine. Basil actually belongs to the mint family, so it makes sense that they compliment each other so well.
I started this dish by crisping up zucchini slices in a pan with a small amount of oil. Then I mellowed out the herby flavors with sweet sun-dried tomatoes, garlicy goodness, and a splash of vinegar. Crusty bread, a generous smear of tangy goat cheese, and toasted walnuts bring all of the components together to make for perfect handheld tapas or appetizers that pair best with a nice glass of wine and good conversation. You could even forget about the bread and goat cheese to effortlessly transform this recipe into a delectable side dish that all will enjoy.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2-3 medium zucchini, sliced on the bias about 1/2 inch in thickness
1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
5 fresh mint leaves
2 large fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon of sun-dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
Goat cheese and your favorite bread (optional, for serving)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the zucchini slices in batches to not overcrowd the pan. Leave the zucchini slices to cook for about 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Both sides should be golden brown.
Remove the zucchini slices from the pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. Continue this process until all of the zucchini and crisped and golden brown.
In the meantime, use a sharp knife to finely mince together the garlic, mint, basil, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Once all the zucchini are cooked and drained, add them back to the hot pan with the garlic herb tomato mixture. Toss with a spatula and add vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve over your favorite toasted bread smeared with goat cheese. Garnish with toasted walnuts and lemon zest.
Ricotta or cottage cheese would work well as a substitute for goat cheese if you desire.
You could also serve this as a side dish without the goat cheese and crostini. It’s super yummy with my lemon rosemary pan seared salmon!
Enjoy, and live well!