Found: One recipe that will make all that zucchini disappear

  • This recipe for zucchini saute is a quick and easy way to enjoy the bounty from the garden.

    This recipe for zucchini saute is a quick and easy way to enjoy the bounty from the garden. Courtesy of Penny Kazmier

Posted9/20/2023 6:00 AM

Are you looking for a new way to prepare zucchini? After making many loaves of zucchini bread, several pans of my favorite zucchini Parmesan, and vegetable casseroles, I found myself looking for other ways to use all the zucchini coming from my garden. That is when I ran across a recipe for a Quick Zucchini Sauté and have been making it ever since.

Slice zucchini into matchsticks for ease of sauteing.
Slice zucchini into matchsticks for ease of sauteing. - Courtesy of Penny Kazmier

Every year, I plant zucchini seeds in my garden and nurture them as they sprout and break through the soil to soak up sunlight to become beautiful plants that will yield more zucchini than we can ever eat. Despite knowing this, I still plant several plants every year and haven't seemed to learn I don't need so many.

Thanks to this recipe, I may have found a way to eat as much zucchini as my plants produce.

According to, zucchini is a summer squash, which means it is harvested before maturing and while the rind is still tender and edible. I don't know about you, but my zucchini seems to move from this "tender" stage to mammoth overnight. This is typically when most zucchini bread gets made in our house, but now I have a new reason to monitor them more closely as this sauté is made with the smaller version.

The word quick was the first thing that attracted me to this recipe. It is made from only six ingredients: olive oil, almonds, zucchini, salt, pepper and pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese -- and I counted salt and pepper as two ingredients!

The original recipe hails from The Red Cat, a now-shuttered restaurant in New York City. I never had the pleasure of eating it there, but I am glad I was able to find the recipe on the internet.

I typically make this three to four times a week during zucchini season and even enjoy the leftovers cold the next day.

There are a couple of tricks to making the recipe.

Don't skip the step where you toast the almonds.
Don't skip the step where you toast the almonds. - Courtesy of Penny Kazmier

First, cut the zucchini into matchstick pieces by cutting them into ¼-inch rounds, stacking them, and then cutting them into sticks. Whatever you do, please resist the temptation to grate your zucchini for this recipe. The matchstick cut helps the zucchini retain its texture and shape while heating.

Second, while you can prep and measure all of the ingredients ahead of time, be sure to put it all together at the last minute, making sure only to warm the zucchini, not cook it, or it will release a pool of moisture, and you will end up with a mushy mess. Ideally, the zucchini should be tender with as much crispness as can be retained. Trust me on this. I speak from experience.

The recipe calls for slivered almonds. But one time I only had whole almonds. So I gave them a quick whirl in my food processor, which resulted in more of a chopped and dusty texture. I thought it tasted even better than the slivers. The lesson is to be creative in using what you have.

Do not skip toasting the almonds as this is essential to the flavor of the dish. Having said this, I have also tried using pistachios and enjoyed the taste.

Lastly, do not salt until you are done heating, as salt will draw out the moisture from the zucchini and make it mushy. And don't forget the cheese -- it is not the same without it.

If you are not experiencing a bountiful harvest of zucchini at your house, this recipe warrants buying a few at the store. This recipe is healthy and delicious, two good reasons to try it soon.

What is your favorite way to prepare zucchini?

• Penny Kazmier, a wife and mother of four from South Barrington, won the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge. Contact Penny at

Zucchini saute is one way to use up zucchini from your garden.
Zucchini saute is one way to use up zucchini from your garden. - Courtesy of Penny Kazmier
Quick Zucchini Sauté

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup almond slivers or slices

2 to 3 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks (instructions below)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons shaved* or grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (to taste)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat until the oil starts to shimmer, but not brown or smoke, and add the almonds. Cook, stirring often until lightly browned, about a minute or two. Add zucchini to the pan and toss until coated with the oil and glistening, only about a minute or two, to warm and slightly soften but do not allow it to become mushy. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Place on serving platter and top with cheese. Serve immediately.

Zucchini matchsticks: Slice zucchini into 1/8- to ¼-inch thick rounds. Stack 4 to 5 rounds on top of each other and cut into 1/8- to ¼-inch sticks. Continue until all zucchini is cut.

*Use a vegetable peeler to create shaved pieces of cheese.

Serves 2

Penny Kazmier

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