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Sautéed Zucchini and Tomatoes

Sautéed Zucchini and Tomatoes
The moment warm-weather vegetables arrive in the Paris markets, this is the sort of offering you find at local bistros. It might be nestled next to simple grilled fish or lamb, placed around eggs baked in a ramekin, served atop a croque-monsieur (a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich), or folded inside savory crepes. All of the ingredients—zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil—bring the classic tastes of the Côte d'Azur, the sun-baked French Riviera, to the capital. The dish can also be made a day or two ahead of time. It will taste even better, as the flavors will have had a chance to marry.

Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 to 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 1⁄2 lb. zucchini, trimmed and
     cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks
  • 1⁄2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1⁄2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 1⁄2 lb. ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste, plus more as needed
  • About 1⁄4 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf
     parsley

Directions:

In a mortar using a pestle, crush the garlic with a large pinch of salt until a paste forms. Set aside.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until the zucchini begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add half of the garlic paste, the tomatoes, the 2 Tbs. tomato paste and thyme and stir well. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook,stirring occasionally, until the zucchini and onions are very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water; if it is too thin, add 1 Tbs. tomato paste and cook, uncovered, for a few minutes longer to evaporate the excess liquid.

Stir in the remaining garlic paste and the parsley. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Paris, by Marlena Spieler (Oxmoor House, 2004).