Sauteed Zucchini and Tomatoes – Simple sauté of zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, and onions, with herbs–and easy and delicious way to spruce up any weeknight meal.My grandmother called this dish “squash.” When asked ‘what’s for dinner’, if she said squash, it was this dish. But there was never any reason to ask if she made this dish because when she made it, the entire house was filled with its aroma.
The smell of this dish is one of my most comforting food-scent memories. I would walk in the house, take a deep breath, and comfort would spread throughout me–for a visual, just picture one of those silly laundry commercials where a person holds a towel or blanket in their arms, takes a big whiff of it, a smile spreads across their entire being and they then clutch the item to themselves and do that little shudder of delight–it was like that.
If she made squash, that meant she made pizza or pasta, two of her specialities. Anything with her red sauce made me happy. I loved the smell of this dish as a kid, but I hated eating it. That’s right. I loved to smell it, refused to eat it.
I was well into my 20’s when my aversion to eating it subsided. I don’t know why I hated it so much. The aroma was intensely fantastic but the taste never worked for me…maybe the ONE time I tried it, I got a slimly piece of zucchini, or may be celery was still to crunchy…who knows. It just never made sense that something that smelled so wonderful, tasted so bad. But I was just an idiot, a girl with an immature palate…a girl who just wanted her rigatoni or pizza and to be left alone and undisturbed by silly little vegetables.
This recipe is far from fancy. It is super simple and really easy to put together. But in my mind it always seemed laborious. Not sure why I had that in my mind. I was in my 20’s, as I mentioned, when the overwhelming desire to try ‘Grandma’s squash’ over took me. My grandma was alive and well but could not hear well enough to talk on the telephone. I had attempted to use my grandfather to help me get the recipe, but that didn’t work either. So, I called Mom2 to get the recipe, as she had learned to make it from my grandmother.She did not believe I wanted to make the dish, but was happy enough to give me the recipe. Now I should tell you that when people in my family give recipes, it’s not the way I give you all recipes. Here I tell you how many ounces or cups, or whatever you need and how long to stir or boil, or whatever, in each step of the recipe. Not so with my family. This is what I was told:
Zucchini, canned tomatoes, celery, onions, green bell pepper, garlic, and oregano. Start with the hard vegetables, add the soft ones, cook, add the tomatoes, and oregano, let it simmer, done.
No quantities. No times. Nothing. But I am used to directions given this way. But like everything, working out the ratios was always a challenge. And by challenge, I mean getting it to taste EXACTLY the way my grandmother made it. I can take those directions and make it delicious. But there is a huge difference (for me) between delicious and tasting like Grandma’s. It should be noted as well that in my family, garlic is usually granulated garlic, rarely does anyone go through the effort to use the fresh stuff. I roll both ways. Sometimes I use fresh, sometimes granulated. It just depends on what I am making, and to be perfectly honest, how lazy I am at the moment. I know professional chefs would skewer me for using granulated in anything outside a dry rub blend, but I’m not a professional, hehehehe.
Sautéed Zucchini and Tomatoes
- 2 store zucchini/1 garden zucchini; quarter chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion; finely diced
- 1 large celery rib; finely diced
- 1 green bell pepper; finely diced
- 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic/1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2-1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp black pepper +/- to taste
- 1/3 tsp salt +/- to taste
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + if needed
Heat a large pan with olive oil over medium high heat, add the onions, celery, and bell pepper, cook for 3-5 minutes or until they begin to soften.
Add the garlic and zucchini and cook together for an additional 2-3 minutes, once the zucchini has begun to soften.
Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a high simmer and reduce heat to low.
Allow to cook on low for 15 or so minutes, giving the flavors enough time to combine and the veggies to finish cooking.
Serve and enjoy. (Tastes great with Parmesan cheese on top as well.)