Provençal Braised Summer Squash with Cured Olives

This is a dish inspired by the flavors of southern France. The addition of the semi-dry (a.k.a. oil-cured or semi-dry oil cured) olives adds a depth and sweetness to the dish along with a winy/meaty flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

1 to 1½ pounds (3-4 cups) summer squash, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/4 cup oil-cured olives, pitted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice (preferably San Marzanos)
1 tablespoon each fresh savory and marjoram, chopped fine, or ½ tablespoon dried
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, or ¼ tablespoon dried
Olive oil as needed
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional- 1 jarred roasted red pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice

METHOD:

Toss the squash with enough oil to evenly coat.

Heat a large straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, film the bottom with oil and wait for it to be almost smoking hot, and add the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the squash until the cut surfaces are golden and lightly blistered, but not soft, then remove from the pan and reserve.

Lower the heat to medium, then film the pan with oil, and add the onions. Cook until translucent. If using the optional red peppers, add them now, toss to heat, then move them with the onions to the side of the pan. Make sure there is some oil in the pan, and then add the garlic to the oil. Cook until fragrant and softening. While the onions are cooking, use your fingers to break up the tomatoes, reserving the juices. Add half the herbs, then the tomatoes. Cook, stirring to break down the tomatoes. Add the olives and the rest of the herbs. Cook until the olives are hot and softened.

Add the squash to the sauce and simmer until the squash is just tender. Taste for seasoning, and adjust if needed. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then serve hot or room temperature.

YIELD: Serves 4