Zucchini with Basil, Mint, and Honey

August 12, 2011
6 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I've never owned a zucchini plant so I've never had an adversarial relationship with the vegetable. I'd happily eat zucchini all summer long. And I like a vegetable that holds both threat and promise. If you don't respect the zucchini, it will ruin your dinner, it will. It'll weep liquid and turn soggy. It'll be bitter if you don't watch out. But if you pamper this little garden diva, zucchini will return the favor and make a dish to remember. - Amanda —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 4 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey, honey (a variety you like but nothing too strong)
  • 10 small basil leaves
  • 10 small mint leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cut the zucchini lengthwise into quarters, and then crosswise into ½-inch cubes. Put them in a bowl, season generously with salt and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan (large enough to fit the zucchini in a single layer) over medium high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the zucchini and let it brown. The trick to this recipe is controlling the heat so the zucchini neither steams nor burns – you want it to brown the edges while leaving the centers crisp-tender. Stir only when needed.
  3. As soon as the zucchini is done, spoon it into a serving dish, leaving the oil in the pan behind. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice, and the honey. Sprinkle the basil and mint leaves and grind some pepper over the zucchini.
  4. Variation: you can make a basil and mint pesto instead of using whole leaves. Combine 1/4 cup packed basil leaves and 1/4 cup packed mint leaves with a pinch of salt in a small food processor. Turn on the machine and drizzle 3 tablespoons oil through feed tube, until a loose sauce forms. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Once the zucchini is cooked, use this pesto to dress it -- you may not need all the pesto.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Marina I. Blanck
    Marina I. Blanck
  • Sadassa_Ulna
  • aligthang
  • ashleyamore
  • melissav
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

23 Reviews

Jc August 12, 2022
Very nice and simple. I put the honey in my bowl 1st and put the hot zucchini in next so that the heat could help dissolve the honey.
Marina I. June 28, 2015
I made this recipe few nights ago but I began in step 2. with sliced and pre-steamed zucchini & champignons, delicious. Wonderful condiment, lI fell in love with its mix.
Sadassa_Ulna July 25, 2013
Mmmmm a friend made this last night and it was so tasty!
Amanda H. July 25, 2013
Glad you liked it -- you reminded me to make it this summer. Thanks.
aligthang July 15, 2012
We made the pesto version of this recipe, though next time I'll go whole leaf. Delicious flavors - perfect accompaniment for any grilled items this summer!
Amanda H. July 15, 2012
Cool. And thanks for the link -- fun to see!
MaryDD August 24, 2011
I made this for dinner last night, it turned out very nicely, a little soggy, but the flavors were still very nice! Being a bit of a rookie when it comes to salting things to draw out the liquid, I dumped the bowl over the strainer in the middle of the kitchen rather than over the sink, not realising that there would be about 3 inches of water in the bottom! Whoops!
ashleyamore August 20, 2011
I used a griddle tonight to prepare these, which made quick work of cooking these little guys. They were delicious as is!

And yet, I had to up the ante. With some fresh ricotta on hand, a garden full of zucchini blossoms, and saffron from Jerusalem, I had to toss it all together in a pasta.

I'm feeling very fat and happy! Thanks for this :)
Amanda H. August 20, 2011
That sounds fantastic. I made pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, corn, and fresh ricotta tonight, as well.
ereis August 15, 2011
yum, I'm always looking for fresh ways to do zucchini. perfect.
learnoff August 15, 2011
Sounds delish! What about oven roasting the zucchini instead of pan frying after the salting and rinsing? This is the usualy method of cooking I use on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a 375 - 400 oven.
Amanda H. August 15, 2011
I like oven roasting, too, but you'll end up with a different result -- if you roast it the zucchini will become soft through the center by the time it browns. Not a bad effect at all -- just different from the caramelized edges and fresher core flavor you get when sauteing
melissav August 15, 2011
We had this for dinner last night and it was very tasty. We went the pesto route and I tossed in some tarragon too because I accidentially snipped a few pieces when cutting the basil and mint. We served it with Liz's corn pudding and Mrs. Wheelbarrow's pork with spicy plum sauce and it was the perfect summer dinner. Thanks for another great recipe.
Amanda H. August 19, 2011
Nice menu!
Midge August 14, 2011
Made this last night with pattypan squash. Delicious! Thanks Amanda.
Amanda H. August 14, 2011
Great -- did you do leaves or pesto? Just curious.
Midge August 14, 2011
Just the leaves and it was great. Will try the pesto next time.
LynnATL August 14, 2011
Making this tonight for Feast Noir (ATL). Sounds so delicious and summery. Perfect for an evening al fresco dinner party!
Amanda H. August 14, 2011
And no need to stress about keeping it warm -- works at outdoors temp, too.
freshjam August 13, 2011
awesome stuff right here and now- just finished my first batch using all ingredients from garden. Served w/ grilled leg of lamb and summer peach cake (both recipes on this site) and local fresh corn on the cob. Outside on the patio- full moon summer nite- just can't get it any better!
Amanda H. August 14, 2011
Can we come over for dinner?
drbabs August 12, 2011
I love this so much! I have tons of zucchini and am going to make it tonight! Thanks!
Amanda H. August 14, 2011
Hope you enjoy it!