As much fun as it is to cook a fancy and elaborate entree, sometimes I feel bad for the side dishes -- they are such an afterthought most of the time. A side salad. Steamed rice or a plain vegetable. Heck, I've eaten sides that don't even get the benefit of a little basic salt and pepper. What gives, people?! Why can't the shining star of a meal be a side dish or two? After all, most vegetables are much prettier than the colors of typical main dishes (think beef, chicken, fish... brown, ivory and white). So, I dedicate this post to you, the side dish, the middle child of the food world. No longer will you be eaten just for filler or ignored because there is a luxurious dessert waiting in the wings.
I present to you one of the easiest and freshest side dishes on the planet -- lemony zucchini with parmesan. Again, another dish born of the "Oh, there is pretty zucchini at the grocery store!" and then later realizing, "What am I going to do with said zucchini before it goes to waste in my refrigerator?" And, the always classic, "What do I have in my pantry to work with?" I've noticed a pattern in my impulsive grocery shopping: zucchini is usually the first thing in my cart that wasn't on my original list. Better than Oreos, I suppose. With all of this zucchini, I've got a bit crazy. Zucchini pizza. Zucchini chips. Time for a new zucchini dish -- a side! The lemon and thyme really wakes up (read: tastes like something from a nice restaurant, as they all use lemon juice as a secret ingredient) the zucchini and the nutty parmesan really makes everything better.
Lemony Zucchini with Thyme and Parmesan
-makes 4 servings
3 medium (1 1/2 pounds) zucchini
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Cut zucchini into large pieces (3/4-inch thick slices, which are then cut into fourths). In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high. Add the zucchini and toss to coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown in spots, roughly 4 minutes. Transfer zucchini to serving bowl. Add lemon juice and fresh thyme, toss to coat. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper as desired. Grate cheese (as much as you want) over zucchini and serve hot.