Tender sautéed zucchini is brightened with cilantro and chili lime salt.
Zucchini is a staple in my house year-round (even more so in the summer months when it’s especially plentiful) and while it’s terrific grilled, in soups, made into noodles or even stuffed, the way I often make it is to simply sauté it.
Sautéed zucchini is fast, easy and only requires one pan, making it the perfect weeknight dish. Just a few simple ingredients are all you need to whip up this side that will go with almost any summertime meal.
The method is pretty basic, just some zucchini cut into batons and tossed into a pan with a little olive oil and garlic, but the real secret to great sautéed zucchini lies in what happens before it hits the pan.
If you’ve ever tried to sauté zucchini you may have run into one of two problems: (1) your zucchini turned out soggy and over cooked or (2) just the opposite and it was nicely browned on the outside but barely cooked on the inside. The key to perfectly sautéed zucchini is: a good salting beforehand, high heat and a large skillet.
The salt draws the excess water from the notoriously waterlogged zucchini before it cooks, while high heat and a large pan ensures that it cooks quickly and evenly without getting overcrowded and creating steam in the pan. The result is zucchini that gets a nice browned exterior with a creamy, tender but not mushy interior.
Now any good sea salt alone will do the trick but I like to infuse mine with a little chili pepper and lime zest for extra oomph. I generally use jalapeno pepper but if you like a lot of heat, use a serrano pepper instead. Make sure to choose a delicate and flaky sea salt like a fleur de sel for the best flavor as you’ll be using it to finish the zucchini once it’s cooked as well. A sprinkling of finely chopped cilantro at the end rounds out the big bold flavors and adds freshness.
Quick, easy and bright with flavor, this may just become your new go-to side this summer.