Usually we are super careful not to overcook zucchini, but here the magic is in cooking them to melting tenderness. This favourite Italian method of cooking zucchini was taught to us by Gillian Hegarty, who cooked the River Café in London, for many years. It is delicious with fish, chicken, lamb and shellfish
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
6 medium green and yellow zucchini, cut at an angle into 5mm (1/4 inch) rounds
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
pinch of chilli flakes
10 basil leaves
10 mint leaves
Zucchini blossoms (if available)
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Choose a heavy-bottomed sauté pan that will hold the courgettes comfortably; they shouldn’t come higher than 4cm (1 1/2 inch) up the side of the sauté pan.
I like to slice the zucchini and put them in the pan first to check. If there are too many layers of zucchini in the pan they will stew and if there are not enough then the zucchini will dry out and burn.
Heat the pan over a high heat and once it is hot, add the oil, quickly followed by the zucchini. Stir, making sure all the zucchini have been coated in the oil, and fry until golden brown. Then add the garlic, fennel, and chilli flakes and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. If it's starting to catch at this stage, add a few tablespoons of water.
Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight fitting lid and stew for 5 - 10 minutes. When the zucchini are soft and tender, tear in the mint and basil leaves and a few zucchini blossoms if you have them. Add 1 tablespoon of your best extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste. The zucchini should be soft, juicy and full of flavour, not al dente.
Grow, Cook, Nourish