Slow Roasted Zucchini, Sea Salt, Olive Oil

Deb Puchalla, who is an editor for Martha Stewart Everyday Food, sent out a call on the Dinner Tonight blog for stories about zukes and cukes.  Here’s mine.

Since it’s the height of summer, there’s a lot of fresh, local produce to be had.  While we don’t get out to the farmers’ stands often enough, the local supermarket has a wonderful program where they sell locally sourced fruits and vegetables, highlighting exactly where the food that you’re buying is coming from.  A couple of weeks ago, there was a nice mound of zucchini that was so tempting, we bought a few without a real plan for what to do with them.
Here’s the thing about food – you can coax the best out of anything that you cook if you respect the season and respect the ingredient.  So, the best ways with various foods are often the simplest, and, in this case, you really can’t get any simpler than olive oil and sea salt.

I have a truffle shaver which has, for years, been one of my favorite gadgets in the kitchen.  Mind you, I’ve only ever shaved a single truffle on this contraption, but it works especially well with parmesan cheese, chocolate, and hard vegetables.  It’s got a blade attached to a screw, and you turn the screw to make the opening wider or narrower as you need it.  I hacked the ends off of the zucchini and, in a flash, had passed them over the truffle shaver, forming a neat pile of uniformly thin rounds on my cutting board.

Now, if the preparation is going to be simple, I suppose I’ll have to make the presentation a little snappier.  I took a big round pan and started layering the zucchini rounds in concentric circles, alternating directions with each full layer.  Between each layer I drizzled some good-quality olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.  When I was done, I popped the whole thing into the oven and slow roasted the zucchini for about an hour, until the rounds were browned along the edges and top.

This approach concentrates the already-summer fresh flavor of the zucchini quite well.  The salt, as salt does with any food, enhances the subtle qualities of the vegetable, while roasting condenses and focuses the flavor.  Next time, though, I think I’ll cut the rounds thicker, or into matchsticks, since slicing them this thin sacrificed texture a little, resulting in soft rounds instead of crisps.