I was really taken by surprise last night when Dave declared this zucchini preparation to be delicious. It's not that he doesn't like zucchini, nor that he is tired of it yet (he's already jokingly saying that "we're having zucchini again tonight, right?"). My surprise was because I not so subtly tried to sneak fennel onto his plate, it's the fennel that he's not always fond of, so for him to say that it was delicious, not just once but a few times, was a real surprise. Perhaps the zucchini/fennel combo was just basking in the glow of the special treat pasta dish that I also served. Or perhaps not, the zucchini and fennel was good!
Now I need to draw on the rather feeble powers of my memory to reconstruct how I put the dish together. I wasn't taking notes or weighing anything, I certainly did not anticipate that this was something that I might try to make again.
So, to the best of my memory...
Extra virgin olive oil for sauteing
1 large Vidalia onion, cut in quarters stem to root end then sliced (fresh from a friend's garden!)
1 medium large fennel bulb, fronds removed, thinly sliced crosswise
2 large zucchini (the Romanesco zukes have been averaging about 7 to 8 oz per)
About 2 tablespoons salted capers, soaked in fresh water, drained and dried
a large pinch of dried sweet marjoram, crumbled
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
fresh basil, chopped (about 10 or 12 largish leaves)
Heat the olive oil (a generous glug, at least 2 perhaps 3 tablespoons) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and fennel to the pan and saute, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are translucent and softening, it took just a few minutes (I used a higher heat than I normally would for a preparation like this because I was in a rush and it seemed to work ok). Add the zucchini and capers and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini starts to soften. Season with salt, marjoram, and garlic. Turn the heat down to medium low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is tender but not too soft. Add the chopped fresh basil just before serving.
It made about 3 to 4 servings as a side dish.
I think that what Dave found acceptable about the fennel in this dish is that the thin sliced fennel became quite soft. In general it's not the flavor of the fennel that disagrees with him, he doesn't like the texture of raw or undercooked fennel, it's too fibrous. What really worked in this preparation was the sweetness of the fennel and onion in contrast to the salty tang of the capers and the slight bitterness of the zucchini, not to mention the richness of that big glug of olive oil. I don't think that capers packed in vinegar would work in the same way, although the tartness of the vinegar in them would probably be a good contrast to the sweet fennel, so if you only have vinegar packed capers give them a try.
About This Blog
This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.
Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...
Thank you and enjoy!