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Baby Yellow Squash and Zucchini Sauté
Scented with Bay Leaf



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Baby Yellow Squash and Zucchini Sauté
Scented with Bay Leaf

Cook and the Gardener:
A Year of Recipes and Writings
from the French Countryside

by Amanda Hesser, 1999, W. W. Norton & Company

(from Summer – July)

“The zucchini is a beautiful plant that sprays its large leaves up like a fountain, shading the pointy orange flowers beneath. And it is very efficient for the amount of space it requires. But one household can hardly keep up with one plant. So why is it you never see just one plant in a garden? Maybe because it satiates gardeners’ need to see growth.
When it comes to zucchini, cooks are less zealous but no less anxious. We wait impatiently for it to grow, and when it first arrives, we’re thrilled. We make ethereal dishes like this one. Then a few weeks pass and we try to stay optimistic about its presence, rifling cookbooks for that single untried recipe. And by the end of the lengthy season, we swear we’ll never eat zucchini again. But we do.
Zucchini does not do well when canned and stored, so it is best to put it to use.
It’s a great creative challenge, but that doesn’t mean you have to disguise it with
a pastiche of ethnic seasonings. Try getting creative with your knife - there is
more than one way to cut a zucchini. Here are a few ideas, all of which could be
used with this recipe, and which may also be used for squash or carrots:

1. Cut crosswise into rounds.
2. Cut lengthwise in half, then lay each half cut side down, and slice
crosswise into half-moons.
3. Cut into 1/4-inch strips lengthwise, then cut these strips lengthwise
into 1/4-inch strips again. Finally, cut the strips crosswise into
1/4-inch cubes.
4. Use a vegetable peeler to make lengthwise wide strips, or ribbons.
These are perfect for making a quick sauté in a wok.
5. Cut into 1/8-inch strips lengthwise, then cut these strips lengthwise
into 1/8-inch strips again. Finally, cut the strips crosswise into 1/8-
inch cubes. This is called ‘brunoise’ and is so small, it is very close
to a mince. It is a good size for adding to salads, or rice pilaf (add
at the last moment and these tiny cubes will cook in the heat of the
rice), or as a finishing touch to soup, such as Zucchini-Lemon Soup.
6. Cut crosswise into 2-inch segments. Thinly slice each segment
lengthwise. Stack 2 to 3 slices at a time and cut lengthwise into
thin matchsticks.
7.  Cut in diagonal slices, 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick.
8. Use baby zucchini or squash whole or halved lengthwise. This
shape is best for grilling or broiling.

Virginia Willis, a fellow château cook, taught me this recipe by the
distraction method. That is, wile I was cooking something else, the
wafts of bay coming up from her pan every time she tossed the zucchini
started to distract me and eventually won over my full attention. This
recipe is a lovely way to treat young sweet squash and could hardly
be simpler."

Serves 4

2 small zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
3 – 4 baby yellow squash or gourds
(about 3/4 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 bay leaves
Coarse or kosher salt

Trimming and seeding zucchini and squash: Remove the stem and
flower ends, cutting close to the flesh without removing too much of it.
Then slice in half lengthwise. Zucchini and squash do not need to be
seeded unless the seeds are large, also indicating the zucchini or squash
is old. Most times they are small enough to be left in. To remove the
seeds, either scoop out with a thin-edges spoon, or (the neater method),
cut each half lengthwise again to make quarters and simply slice off the
row of seeds. This latter method, however, can be used only if cutting
the zucchini into sticks, cubes or brunoise, not for rounds or half-moons.

1. Cut the zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into quarters, then
cross-wise into 1/2-inch cubes.
2. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil until bubbles form around the edge
and you can smell the oil. Then add the squash with the bay leaves,
and season with a little salt. Sauté over medium-high heat until the
squash is slightly tender and some of the edges begin to brown, 10
to 12 minutes. It needs frequent movement in the pan. The aroma
of bay leaf should be thick, and the movement encourages its release
and infusion into the vegetables. Either shake the pan, or stir with aa
wooden spoon, folding the zucchini and squash over themselves.
When the squash is warmed through and slightly soft but still rather
crisp, season to taste with salt. Discard the bay leaves, and serve.

Serving Suggestions:  For a slow summer evening, when the thought of
cooking is more exhausting than the heat itself, grilled fish served with
this zucchini would make a perfectly easy, light, balanced meal…

Featured Archive Recipes:
Amanda Hesser's Creamy Leeks and Tarragon on Toast
Amanda Hesser's New Potatoes, Red Onion and Purslane
Amanda Hesser's Summer Vegetables with Three Sauces
Julia Child's Zucchini au Gratin
Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Pesto

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