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Sautéed Zucchini with Vinegar, Tomatoes, and Feta

August 22, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Vegetables | Post comment

Sautéed Zucchini with Vinegar, Tomatoes, and Feta

Such a simple, straightforward dish with tang from vinegar, torn basil leaves, little tomatoes and other goodies, such as olives, pine nuts, capers. This is the kind of dish I make regularly when zucchini is in season, which is right now, usually without measuring and always improvising. Invariably it starts out simply - just zucchini, vinegar and basil, but I can ‘t resist adding sliced Sun Gold tomatoes, kalamata olives, shards of feta cheese or ricotta salata, and fresh basil leaves. You can eat this hot or at room temperature, which means you can make it to take to a dinner and not worry about its temperature.

Not only is the recipe relaxed and versatile, so are its uses – see note below recipe.


3 or 4 6-inch zucchini, about a pound
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and slivered
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
One or two sprigs of basil
2 to 3 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar, to taste
Handful small “fruit” tomatoes, such as yellow currants, Jaune Flamme, Sun Gold
Shards of thinly sliced feta or ricotta salata cheese, or curls of Manchego cheese
Extra basil leaves, slivered


Slice the zucchini into rounds about 3/8 inches thick.

Heat the oil with the garlic in a wide deep sauté pan, or divide between two skillets.  When the garlic turns pale gold, remove it but don’t discard it. Add the zucchini to the hot oil, season with ½ teaspoon salt, and sauté over high heat turning every few minutes, until golden.  In all this will take about 15 minutes.  (While the zucchini is cooking, mince the garlic that you set aside and put it in a bowl.)

Often a slice of zucchini will be beautifully colored on one side and not on the other, but you can tell it’s done because it’s soft and slightly translucent. Not all will look exactly alike.

When all are done, taste and season with more salt, if needed, and plenty of pepper. Sprinkle over the vinegar and turn the vegetables gently with a wide rubber spatula. Tear the basil into pieces and add it to the bowl, and garnish with very small, whole tomatoes or larger ones, halved and quartered, and the cheese.

Yields about 2 cups

What you can do with this dish

1.    Serve it as a vegetable along side grilled chicken or other piece of meat.
2.    Toss with pasta, such as whole wheat penne, shells or spaghetti
3.    Toast a piece of bread, cover with a layer of ricotta cheese and serve the zucchini over the top for a light supper or lunch. You can also skip the cheese if you prefer.
4.    Eat leftovers as a salad. You might add some olives or capers to the dish in this case.
5.    Mix the zucchini with beaten eggs, then cook to make a frittata