I love chunky vegetable braises where I treat the vegetables like meat, browning them and then cooking them in a modicum of liquid. This recipe lists zucchini, but you can use other summer squash just as easily. Just remember to cut them into asymmetric sizes. Use a roll cut for long squash, and for things like Pattypan just cut them into wedges. For the “roll cut,” trim the squash, then make a cut at a 45° angle relative to the edge of the cutting board. Roll the squash a quarter turn and cut again, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches between each cut. This gives an interesting shape that is uniform, but won’t stack up and leave uncooked surfaces.
1½ pound zucchini, cut into 1½ inch pieces using the roll cut
1½ pound potatoes, cut into 1½ inch chunks
1 cup soffrito, room temperature
2 medium tomatoes or 3 medium plum tomatoes, cut into ½ inch dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups vegetable stock or water, heated to a simmer
1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano and/basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil as needed
1/4 – 1/2 cup brine cured purple olives (optional)
Heat a good film of oil in 10 inch skillet. When hot, add the squash. Season with salt and pepper, and cook just to brown the surfaces a little. Remove the squash from the pan.
While the squash cooks, toss the potatoes in a bowl with just enough oil to moisten them all over, the season with salt and pepper. When the squash is finished browning and removed, add the potatoes to the pan and cook just enough to brown the surfaces.
Add the soffrito to the pan and cook to heat through. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and half the herbs and toss to combine.
When the tomatoes start to wilt, add the stock and/or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes the potatoes should be softening and the tomatoes should be melting.
Add the zucchini chunks and gently stir. Add the rest of the herbs and the olives if using them, gently stirring again to combine everything.
Cook just to warm the zucchini through. Remove the vegetables to a platter, and if there is a lot of liquid left, reduce it over high heat until thickened or even syrupy-your choice. When the liquid reaches your desired consistency, pour it over the vegetables.
Serve hot with rice, farro, bulghur, and noodles…
YIELD: Serves 4
SOURCE: Chef Andrew E Cohen