This recipe for zucchini, corn and tomato sauté is a part of this week’s Tuesdays In The Garden, with a theme of Summer Garden-to-Table Recipes. At the end of this guide, you’ll find links to recipes using more zucchini (can you have too many?), peppers, and rhubarb. Enjoy!
How do you feel about zucchini? Sure it’s the butt of many summer gardening jokes (“Don’t leave your car window rolled down in July and August, or you may find your seat full of huge zucchinis” and the classic bag of zucchinis left on your doorstep in the dark of night…), but we all grow it for a reason, right? It’s a pretty good for you – and let’s face it, easy to grow – vegetable.
More than that, though, zucchini is versatile. Since it doesn’t have a strong flavor, it can be used in everything from pancake-like fritters, to muffins, cookies, and cakes. Oh and let’s not forget classic zucchini bread. I’m not sure it would be summer without a loaf (or ten) of my no-fail zucchini bread (made healthier with whole wheat and less sugar).
Ah, but here’s where we get to the heart of this vegetable and the many people (like me…) who don’t like eating it as, well…a vegetable. Sure, in things it’s great – but on it’s own? Um, can you say “mush?”
There are only a few ways I like cooked zucchini and the one thing they all have in common is the zucchini stays mostly crisp. This is important, otherwise I’m transported back to my childhood where the vegetables on my plate were often mushy. I just can’t get past the texture issue and any recipe that calls for more than 5 minutes of cooking the zucchini falls into the “mushy” category for me (sorry to all those zucchini casseroles…).
Zucchini Corn and Tomato Sauté with Feta
When I found this recipe for a zucchini corn and tomato sauté in an old Women’s Day magazine I knew right away it had the potential to become a way to actually eat zucchini as a vegetable because of two things:
- it’s a quick-cooking recipe
- there’s a trick included to keep the zucchini crisp
Oh, and it didn’t hurt that it was full of other height of the summer garden vegetables – corn, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. I decided to amp up the flavor by adding feta cheese and let me tell you, it did it’s job.
The trick the recipe uses, besides fast cooking, is to salt the diced zucchini and let it drain in a colander for about 15 minutes before cooking.
If you wonder, like I did, if this really makes a difference and if it’s worth the extra step, I’m sharing the amount of liquid pulled out of the zucchini pictured for this recipe. That’s quite a bit, right?
Even though after the first few times making this I could see the liquid and knew it pulled out quite a bit, one time I was in a hurry and decided to skip this step. It was definitely not as good. There was a lot more liquid and the zucchini was sliding into mushy territory. I learned that I will always make time for this this step.
But to ensure crisp zucchini even more, here’s another step you can do:
Slice out the seedy centers of the zucchini. I always, always do this for the big, overgrown zucchini, but I also do it for smaller zucchini in recipes like this. It’s just an easy extra step towards crisp, cooked zucchini.
Here’s how to keep this zucchini corn and tomato sauté recipe quick, even with the draining step: start the zucchini draining and then use that time to prep your other vegetables. This way the total recipe takes just 20-25 minutes.
The tomatoes and half the feta are simply folded in after removing the pan from the stove, so the tomatoes keep their shape and the feta barely starts to melt. Then top the dish with the remaining feta before serving.
I have to say that even though I had high hopes for this recipe, it was still a completely delicious surprise to me the first time I made it. I had finally found a way to eat cooked zucchini that I liked!
Plus, we found that it’s just as good cold as it is warm, making it a summer salad option, too, as well as a great potluck dish.
There are so many great flavors in this zucchini corn sauté that all work well together and the stay-crisp techniques and quick-cooking make it even better. It’s a super easy way to use your summer vegetables up – I think you will be just as pleasantly surprised as I was!