As the summer wears on, zucchini just keep getting bigger. I may be imagining this, but I could swear I’ve seen zucchini grow overnight in my garden. Once the summer heat really sets in, they grow and grow and grow if they have enough space and water. So, what do you do with those big dog-days- of-summer zucchini? They’re full of water, and they’re blander than their early season counterparts, but they’re great on the grill, and they’re fabulous slowly simmered with the big, full flavors of tomatoes and olives. Serve this dish with crusty bread, and perhaps some burrata or mozzarella. It’s a perfect summer side for a family meal in your backyard or a casual gathering with friends.
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds green or yellow zucchini, trimmed
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus a large pinch
About 7½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
1½ cups Basic Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons chopped pitted Calabrese olives
10 mint leaves, roughly torn, plus additional torn leaves for garnish
Slice the zucchini into ¾-inch-thick lengths. Transfer to a colander set over a bowl and toss with the 1 tablespoon salt. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Pat the zucchini very dry with paper towels.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat. Add a third of the zucchini and cook, without moving it much, until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining zucchini in 2 batches, using about 1½ tablespoons more oil per batch.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Stir in the parsley, oregano, garlic, and chili and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium. Stir in the tomato sauce and olives. Cook the sauce until it breaks and begins to release its oil, 2 to 3 minutes.
Return the zucchini to the pot and season with the large pinch of salt. Cover
the pot and bake for 1 hour.
Stir the mint leaves into the zucchini and serve topped with additional mint.