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It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Summer

Side dishes are often an after thought, but this easy zucchini dish may upstage your entree

I’ve had a couple of busy weeks. So I offer this quick post. Here in D.C., it has been unseasonably hot and humid. We’re talking nearly 100° F. Usually, we don’t see that much mercury on the thermometer until late August, and we’re barely out of May!

All that summer heat put me in the mood for some serious summer flavors, and that got me thinking of this super simple dish. It goes great with grilled chicken or steak. I got the idea for it from this recipe posted last November on Giuliano & Lael Hazan’s blog, Educated Palate. It was inspired by their young daughter Gabriella during a trip to the grocery store and proves that sometimes the simplest dishes are the best. My version uses zucchini instead of yellow squash and replaces marjoram with sweet basil. It sings with all the flavors of summer.

Let’s eat.

Zucchini with Grape Tomatoes, Onions & Sweet Basil


  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 teaspoon
  • 3 zucchinis, about 7-8 inches in length, rinsed
  • 8 ounces grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh sweet basil, lightly packed, hand-torn into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Halve and peel the onions and cut into ¼ inch slices. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in large frying pan over a medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and sauté for 10-15 minutes stirring frequently. You want the onions to soften thoroughly and get a rich golden color.

While the onions are cooking, remove the ends of the zucchinis, cut them in half lengthwise, and cut each half crosswise into ½ inch slices. When the onions are ready, transfer them to a bowl. Add the last teaspoon of oil, the zucchini and another pinch of salt and sauté until the zucchini are softened and begin to brown.

While the zucchini cooks, slice the tomatoes lengthwise in half. When the zucchini is ready, return the onions to the pan, add the tomatoes and heat until the tomatoes are softened and start to give up their juices. Add the basil and stir thoroughly. Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir until the basil is wilted. Taste for salt and pepper.

Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot. A delicious light broth will gather at the bottom of the bowl. Be sure to stir from the bottom between servings.

Makes 4 servings.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • sippitysup June 4, 2011, 2:59 pm

    This dish does indeed sing. Follow the seasons and you’ll always eat happy. Great interpretation too. GREG

    • David Ellis June 5, 2011, 12:28 am

      Greg, thanks for your comments. Eating happy is what it’s all about!

  • susan April 16, 2014, 8:47 am

    I am looking for the pepper steak recipe…..I have the yellow box edition and a few of my favorites have mysteriously gone missing……..the meatloaf one, the chocolate cookie one and the pepper steak….if you have these it would be greatly appreciated….

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