Monday, February 6, 2012

The Side Dish I Make the Most: Zucchini and Almonds

I don't make a lot of things more than once because there is such a world of food out there that I'm excited to try something new all the time. But my goal in starting this blog is to have a litany of recipes that are tried and true. This is one of those recipes. It doesn't hurt that it turns one of my all time favorite vegetables, zucchini, into a star. Also, it never fails me, takes very little time, and Adam actually requests it, which is a shocker for two reasons: 1. It contains a vegetable. 2. He never requests anything because he can't remember what he ate last, let alone what he ate days or weeks ago.

All you need to do is julienne your zucchini either by using a mandoline slicer or simply using your knife. Hold the zucchini by the stem and make slices lengthwise, then chop from end to end. It will be a  little imperfect, but who cares!

Next, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan. I often use my fancy meyer lemon olive oil for this. Once the oil is heated toss in a big handful of slivered or sliced almonds. This picture shows slivered, but I actually prefer sliced. Let the almonds get all brown and toasty. Then throw in your zucchini.

Give the pan a good shake and get the almonds and oil mixed in. Sometimes I'll add a drizzle more olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt, a healthy grind of fresh pepper, a dash of cayenne (if you like spicy), and a squeeze of lemon. Take note! The trick to this dish is to only cook the zucchini for about one minute, maybe, maybe two. Honestly by the time you toss it and season it, it should be done and ready to serve. The zucchini should be sliced thin enough that it heats up quickly leaving you with a crisp, fresh, and flavorful side dish. I really like the addition of cayenne pepper and lemon in this dish and highly recommend it. My cayenne is very spicy so I only use a little, adjust your seasonings to your taste and the level of your cayenne.

This dish is best when served immediately.

Zucchini and Almond Sauté
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Recipe for 2 (double as needed - it's about 1 zucchini per serving)

2 zucchinis, washed and cut into 1/8 inch matchsticks or julienned with a mandoline or knife
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more if needed for drizzling
dash of salt
sprinkling of fresh ground pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
juice of 1/2 a lemon

- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot (but not smoking) and the almonds and stir. Cook the almonds, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown. About 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the zucchini to the pan and tossing it with the almonds and olive oil. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and lemon. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve.

Peace, love, zucchini, and happiness!

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