The last couple weeks have been brutal, temperature-wise (and everything else-wise, but we only have time for one thing). With temps over 100℉, I haven’t been able to cook at my stove, much less turn on my oven. But finally, we’re back down in the high 70s, and the oven is, once again, an option.
And not a moment too soon. We’re getting towards the end of zucchini season, a season I adore because I can make zucchini butter pasta and big zucchini pickles. I’ve also been looking forward to trying the viral Thomas Keller zucchini recipe, but haven’t been able to, because it’s a recipe that requires the use of a truly hot oven.
The method is simple, but wildly effective. You slice a zucchini (or yellow squash) in half, length-wise, score it with a cross-hatch pattern, salt it heavily, and let it hang out for 15 minutes so the salt can draw out excess moisture. Pat the squash dry, sear them in a hot pan, then roast in the oven until they are soft and supple. The scoring helps the salt penetrate deeper into the vegetable, drawing out more water for a more concentrated flavor, while also providing greater textural opportunities. The result is a silky, tender and caramelized squash with tons of developed flavor.
Keller finishes his zucchini with a fresh vierge sauce, a mixture of tomatoes, shallots, champagne vinegar, and a few seasonings, but you can finish them with whatever you like. I went with a combination of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, feta, and mint, but a miso glaze, chili crisp, or simple summer pesto would all work beautifully.
Scored and Roasted Zucchini
Table of Contents
- Zucchini or yellow squash, at least 1
- Neutral oil for the pan
- Finishing sauce of choice
Slice the zucchini or yellow squash in half lengthwise, taking care to halve it as evenly as possible. Using a sharp knife, lightly score the exposed flesh in a crosshatch pattern, with about 1/4 inch of space between each scoring. (I’m serious when I say “lightly”; score too deep and you’ll lose pieces of squash.)
Sprinkle a couple of big pinches of salt over each half—you want them to sparkle—then let them sit for 15 minutes so the salt can draw out excess moisture. Heat your oven to 450℉.
In the meantime, heat an oven-safe pan over high heat, with just enough neutral oil to coat the pan. Once the oil is shimmering, it’s ready for the zucchini. Pat it completely dry with paper towels, then place in the pan, scored side down. Reduce the heat to medium, then let cook for about five minutes, until browned. Flip the zucchini to scored side up and transfer the whole pan to the pre-heated oven and roast for 20-30 minutes until completely soft. Blot any excess oil with paper towels, transfer to a plate, and serve with your sauce of choice.