It's not that I'm opposed to culinary routine. To be honest, I could subsist (quite happily) on McCann's Irish oatmeal and take-out pho ga for several months. But when it comes to cooking dinner, I tend to avoid repetition.
Blame curiosity, or the sense of guilt induced by a shelf full of untested, unspattered cookbooks. Either way, even my favorite recipes never achieve regular rotation, filed away for birthday celebrations or dinner parties. Tuesday Taco Night, I fear you shall never come to pass.
So when I tell you that I cooked this dish twice in as many weeks, please consider that telling. Braised beyond recognition (squash haters, take note), zucchini is elevated to buttery, translucent transcendence.
Braised Zucchini with Mint and Lemon
Adapted from Russ Parsons via The Wednesday Chef
2 pounds zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped mint, divided
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1. Cut the ends from each zucchini, slice the zucchini in quarters lengthwise and then cut the quarters in half crosswise. You'll have large pieces of zucchini about 2 to 3 inches long.
2. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, warm the olive oil and the onion over medium-low heat until the onion softens and becomes fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, the garlic, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon mint and 2 tablespoons of water and stir well to combine. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is extremely tender and almost translucent, about 25 minutes. There should be some liquid still in the bottom of the pan.
3. Remove the lid, add the lemon juice and increase heat to high. When the liquid begins to bubble, remove from heat and set aside uncovered. When the zucchini is at warm room temperature, stir in the remaining mint and the pine nuts, then taste and add more salt and lemon juice if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.