Pan-fried zucchini with mint is a brilliant way to use up that summer bounty of squash and mint, 2 things that grow with abandon in the warmer months. A touch of Syrian flavor makes it an irresistible and lush (and healthy!) side dish.
Adapted from Anas Atassi | Sumac | Interlink Books, 2021
In the Arab world, and most certainly in Syria, we love stuffed vegetables, especially zucchini. Serve this lovely dish in a pita to make ma’aleh, one of my favorite street foods.–Anas Atassi
HOW DO I KEEP MY ZUCCHINI FROM GETTING SOGGY?
Zucchini, and some of the other summer squashes, are pretty full of water. In other recipes, you might squeeze or salt out the water. However, in this recipe, you’re going to rely on high heat and a drizzle of oil to keep those squashes from getting squishy. Don’t be tempted to go low and slow on this one—when we say pan-fried, we mean pan-fried. The high heat and oil give you a crisp finish but also keep the moisture inside, making the finished veg tender.
Pan-Fried Zucchini with Mint
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large or 3 small (9 oz) zucchini or summer squash halved lengthwise
- 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons dried mint
- 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
- Juice of 1 large lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons) preferably organic
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh mint leaves
- In a nonstick skillet over high heat, warm the oil. Arrange the zucchini flat side down in the skillet and cook until it begins to look well-browned, about 5 minutes. Flip the zucchini, stir in garlic, and continue to cook until the zucchini is seared on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes more. Be careful not to let the garlic scorch.
- Add the mint, paprika, lemon juice, and a pinch each salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
- Arrange the zucchini on a serving plate, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with torn or whole mint leaves, as desired. Serve warm.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Zucchini is one of my favorites vegetables and I’m always trying to cook it in different ways. This recipe for pan-fried zucchini with mint is so easy and the final result is so good that I’ve already done it twice. Since I like my zucchini crunchy, I let it cook a little bit longer (3 more minutes) from the total specified. I got two portions (but I ate it all, LOL). I served them with rice and shrimp with chorizo. Delicioso!
This pan-fried zucchini with mint is simply delicious. A quick, light summer side dish or main course if you’d like that is full of flavor. The lemon really brings out the dried mint and paprika so well. I loved it. I served mine on a slice of salted buttered sourdough bread with tomato, Maldon salt, feta, olive oil, and cilantro (didn’t have fresh mint on hand). I’ll definitely be making this again.
This recipe for pan-fried zucchini with mint was a surprise for me…it seemed somehow too simple to work, but also seems so obvious I’m surprised I haven’t come across more recipes like this. I’ve seen all kinds of treatments for zucchini, but never one where it is pan-cooked as complete halves as you might on a grill. What results is zucchini with a seared and slightly blistered exterior with tender but al-dente insides.
Portioning is super easy since everyone gets a half and it eats very well with a knife and a fork. The dried mint and Hungarian paprika were mellow but present, and I think I might shake things up using half Hungarian/half-smoked next time. I could also imagine a little crumbled feta being a welcome addition to the party. I served the minted zucchini with roast chicken.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Middle eastern flavors are our jam, and this recipe for pan-fried zucchini with mint didn’t disappoint. It was quite easy to prepare and cooks up fast in the skillet. It really complemented our sous vide middle eastern spiced halibut, and I used the leftover fond and oil in the skillet to get a nice seared finish on the fish. I finished the zucchini using a chiffonade of fresh mint rather than leaves which allowed me to bruise the herb and release more flavor.