Sunday, July 09, 2006

Summer squash and zucchini with ziti

When I was growing up, I was a much pickier eater than I am now (sometimes I wish I had kept a little of that pickiness, it would make weight maintenance a lot simpler). One dish I vividly remember turning my nose up at was one my parents made with excess summer garden bounty - tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash. Now that my taste has matured, I enjoy this quite a bit, and it always makes me feel that summer has gotten into full swing.

We found a deal on overripe tomatoes at the produce market the other day (a little excess summer bounty without the garden) so this seemed like the perfect thing to have for dinner. We usually make this recipe by eye, so here are some general guidelines:

4-5 small zucchini and any type summer squash (or two large)
4 c. (4-6) tomatoes
1/4 - 1/2 c. tomato sauce (optional)
pinch salt
freshly ground pepper
bay leaf

Slice the zucchini and summer squash into 1/8 - 1/4" thick medallions. Chop the tomatoes roughly and combine in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and the bay leaf and saute until squash starts to soften, about 5-10 minutes. At this point, add the pepper and tomato sauce to your preference and cook down another 5-10 minutes or so.

One thing I really like about this dish is that it is particularly versatile - it works equally well as a side dish or main meal, over pasta or as straight up veggies... you could probably even throw some chicken in there if you wanted to. The important thing to note is that the amount of sauce you will want to add will probably depend on how you're serving it, as well as your own tastes. I like to have a little extra sauce if I'm going to have it over pasta, but as a standalone dish I might omit it entirely. A final ratio of about 1/2 tomato to 1/2 squash or thereabouts is perfect for me.

Fish out the bay leaf, then serve over pasta with a generous grate of Parmesan cheese over the top.

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