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Pomì is a staple in authentic Italian homes. Created in Parma in 1935, this brand of passata, or strained tomatoes, has been widely available in the United States for decades. I use it in my Hot and Cold Summer Squash all season long. The pairing of ripe, juicy tomatoes and zucchini is even better than extra virgin olive oil and fresh bread.
Zucchini, the miracle squash, is so easy to grow that it and other summer squashes are abundant in backyard gardens, farmers' markets and grocery stores this time of year. With minimal calories and an enormous amount of Vitamin A, zucchini is an incredibly simple and healthy vegetable to cook this summer.
To give it a little more flavor in my restaurants and at home, I season zucchini with a heavy dose of flaky sea salt, such as Maldon. When looking for flaky salt, you want to notice certain qualities: a gentle, mild flavor and a crisp crunch. While I like my pasta water reminiscent of the sea, I prefer my flaky salt be a little sweeter, less bold.
In the restaurant industry, some chefs may consider you either lazy or oblivious if stems of herbs are found in a dish. However, in this recipe, minced tender parsley stems are an anomaly. More than just a garnish, parsley stems are sharper in flavor and less delicate than the leaves. Stems hold up better in sautés, long-cooked stocks, braised dishes and stews.
The best part about my Hot and Cold Summer Squash is that this zucchini can be refrigerated for up to three days -- and I love my leftovers. Whether served chilled or at room temperature, this dish is phenomenal throughout summertime. If you have any leftover zucchini from the market, indulge in a little homemade zucchini bread for family breakfast the following morning.
Hot and Cold Summer Squash
Recipe excerpted from "Molto Gusto" by Mario Batali (ecco, 2010)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 pounds small zucchini and/or striped zucchini or yellow summer squash, sliced into 1/3-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup minced tender parsley stems
Maldon or other flaky sea salt
2 tablespoons grated orange zest (use a Microplane or other rasp grater)
2 to 3 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup Pomì strained tomatoes, simmered until reduced by half
Heat a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and then add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, or until golden brown. Add half of the zucchini and half of the parsley, season well with salt, and sauté until the zucchini is softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the orange zest and half of the red pepper flakes, and transfer to a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat until hot, and then add the remaining zucchini and parsley, season with salt, and sauté until the zucchini is softened but not browned. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon orange zest and red pepper flakes, and add to the first batch of zucchini, tossing gently.
Add the tomato sauce to the zucchini and mix gently. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, mixing gently. Let stand for at least 10 minutes, or up to 1 hour, before serving.
(Mario Batali is the award-winning chef behind twenty-four restaurants including Eataly, DelPosto, and his flagship Greenwich Village enoteca, Babbo.)