Make Ahead

Sautéed Zucchini With Mint, Basil & Walnuts

June 27, 2014
7 Ratings
Photo by Eric Moran
  • Serves 4 as a small side, or 2 as a meal.
Author Notes

Adapted ever-so-slightly from Deborah Madison's always reliable "Vegetable Literacy." —Marian Bull

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound zucchini (or any summer squash), sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 small cloves garlic
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 1 heaping tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, more to taste
  • 1 pinch Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 handful Additional mint and basil, torn, to garnish
  • Ricotta and your favorite bread (optional, for serving)
  1. Heat half of your olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add half the zucchini and sauté, flipping and turning every few minutes, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Don't salt them yet!
  2. While your zucchini cooks, chop together the garlic, mint, basil, and capers so that they intermingle and turn into a sort of knife pesto.
  3. When the zucchini is golden, remove it from the pan and cook the remaining zucchini in the remaining oil, just as you did the first batch. Then add the first batch back into the pan, along with the herb-garlic mixture and the vinegar, to taste. Taste for salt; add a good pinch, plus a few cracks of pepper. Toss well.
  4. Scoop everything out onto a serving plate. Right before serving, sprinkle on the nuts and extra herbs as a garnish. I like to carve out a corner of my serving dish, dollop on a big pile of ricotta, and serve everything together with thick slices of crusty bread. It also makes for some mean crostini.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alanna
  • marsiamarsia
  • Aura Navarro
    Aura Navarro
  • Maya
  • Jestei
Marian Bull

Recipe by: Marian Bull


28 Reviews

Khadija M. December 27, 2018
Will this be okay without capers? I don't like them. Do I need to add something else in for flavor?
Alanna September 8, 2017
This was DELICIOUS! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe - huge Deborah Madison fan here.
marsiamarsia August 28, 2017
From a friend of hers, my mother learned the following method for cooking zucchini or yellow squash and taught me: cook sliced squash with oil in a deep, fairly lightweight pot (stainless steel is good) with a well-fitting lid. Using fairly high heat and a potholder to secure the lid, pick up the pot (with lid on) and shake it up and down, forwards and backwards. Then set your pot back on the burner for 2–3 minutes and repeat shaking until all pieces are done to your satisfaction. You can peek inside the pot as you go. This "hack" should work, I think, for this recipe. It saves having to turn each piece by hand with a spatula or whatever. Can't wait to try this tempting recipe!
Aura N. August 18, 2017
Has anyone actually tried roasting instead of browning in the pan? Also i have a mixture of sunburst squash and zucchini, any thoughts on whether this would work in the recipe?
Bascula August 4, 2017
This was delicious, and I loved it with the ricotta. I found it to be tedious and a trial to brown all those coins of zucchini. Maybe roasting would be good, but then that would heat up the kitchen...
Maya June 29, 2016
The flavors in this recipe are amazing. We made some quinoa to go with it; it stretched the meal a little further and it worked out great since our veggies got a little too soft.
Jestei September 14, 2015
i wanted to share a short cut that i used for a big dinner (tripled the recipe) in which i ran out of time: i put garlic and capers in oil and sauteed a while, then simply ripped her herbs and put them in a bowl. i sauteed the zucchini in the pan with oil again so some flavor was left then used my caper herb thing as generous garnish. a little faster and very very good. guests raved. very good for a menu that needs to be vegan esp.
Marian B. September 14, 2015
hi jenny getting this comment made my day
Tereza September 8, 2015
Can't wait to try this!
hanachocho August 25, 2015
Added eggplant to the mix, and I definitely recommend it!
BocaCindi July 30, 2015
Sounds terrific. Will roast zucchini to speed things up.
Marianne July 13, 2015
Are the capers necessary?
Could you use broccoli instead of zucchini?

Taryn July 17, 2015
I think it would be great with broccoli, though the cooking time would vary. Subbing olives with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to mimic the brine of capers may be worth a try too!
epicharis June 15, 2015
Christ almighty, this is good. To anyone passing by wondering if this is worth a try: DO IT. DO IT NOW.
jackhutton July 21, 2015
Just made this- took liberties; a lot less oil & shredded Parmesan on top vs ricotta - so, heavily edited but thought exactly the same thing: this was really really good.
Taryn February 18, 2015
I made this for dinner for a friend last night. Absolutely delicious, even without the red wine vinegar I realized that I left out in lieu of lemon juice.
Next time I will use a larger sauté pan, as multiple batches threw off the timing of my other dinner items.
Great Recipe!
Hannah M. August 21, 2014
This is pure genius! Made it and was asked to "make enough for six people to eat everyday, three times a day, for a week" next time I make it. I followed the recipe almost to the letter, but used lemon juice instead of vinegar and a bit more basil.
The only slight caveat I would mention is that I used the biggest pan I had and still had to do the zucchini in three batches, so that took a while. But I didn't really mind and it was totally worth it.
Marian B. August 22, 2014
Wow, so happy to hear this! I haven't stopped making it since I first wrote about it. And yes, I think that sometimes three batches is necessary, especially depending on the thickness and width of your slices.
Alexandra S. July 22, 2014
This is SO delicious! I have made this two nights in a row, and I am picking up my next CSA this afternoon, so I will be making it again tonight. My cousin emailed me the recipe about a week ago, and she described it as her new favorite recipe. I've been eating it just as you suggest — with ricotta and my favorite bread. I could eat this meal all summer. The knife pesto is too good!
Marian B. August 22, 2014
I *have* been eating it all summer -- so happy you are enjoying it, too! xx
LauriL July 7, 2014
You paint a good tale! Def. try this with "the knife pesto" !!
Marian B. August 22, 2014
It's awesome! xx
Pegeen July 2, 2014
Marian and all - Would you use this recipe for eggplant?
Marian B. July 2, 2014
Yes! In the book, Deborah says this recipe works very well with eggplant, though I haven't tried it yet.
John S. June 30, 2014
Thanks Marian I will give it a try.
John S. June 29, 2014
That looks so good, just a quick question do you think it would work as well with truffle oil instead of olive oil? I buy mine from here I have been looking around for inspirations..
Marian B. June 30, 2014
I think you could try drizzling a bit of it on top, to finish! I wouldn't suggest sautéeing the zucchini in olive oil, though -- it would overpower the dish, and I'm not sure about cooking truffle oil at high heats. If you do use it to drizzle, you could also play around with other herbs, too -- like thyme, or a teeny bit of fresh oregano, etc. Let me know if you do!
Betty June 19, 2016
I think in the 2nd line you mean 'truffle oil' and not 'olive oil'?