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
medium zucchini, ends trimmed
honey, honey (a variety you like but nothing too strong)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.