Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy is really a very useful book. It is full of interesting but easy recipes for almost any vegetable you would be likely to bring home from the farmer’s market or supermarket. My favorite recipe so far is this recipe for zucchini stewed to melting tenderness with onion, garlic, olive oil and Swiss chard. The texture and flavor of the long stewed summer squash is quite a revelation: luxuriously silky and delicately flavored. The flavor and texture of the chard becomes more refined as well, somehow.
Zucchini Stewed with Onion and Chard
Loosely adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy. I used half the amount of zucchini that the recipe originally called for and I left out the fresh marjoram and the extra cooking liquid (not necessary, I think). This makes a small amount, but is easily enough for 2-3 as a side dish.
3 Tbl. olive oil
1 onion, sliced (original instructions were for 1/2″ thickness, but I went with thinner slices, maybe 1/4″ thick)
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
12 ounces zucchini (2 medium zucchini), sliced into half lengthwise and then cut into 1 1/2″ pieces (original recipe called for cutting zucchini into 1 1/2″-2″ logs, but the accompanying photo showed zucchini that was halved and then cut 2″ lengths)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 Swiss chard leaves (remove the stems), cut into large piece
Heat oil in 6 quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook a few minutes until translucent. Add the zucchini, toss it around to coat with oil. Add the salt and pepper and the Swiss chard and stir everything around a bit. Cover the pot and stew the vegetables over low heat about 20 minutes. Lift the lid and stir everything around gently. Re-cover the pot and heat the vegetables for another few minutes.
At this point, Deborah Madison calls for adjusting the seasoning and adding some extra olive oil and lemon juice, but I didn’t bother. She also suggests adding fresh dill instead of marjoram or oregano (1 tsp., fresh chopped herbs). She says that this is good warm or cold (with a squeeze of lemon juice). If you want to have this as part of a dairy meal, she suggests a garlic-yogurt sauce, or some grated Parmesan.
Note: It might take quite a bit longer than 25 minutes to get the vegetables sufficiently tender–let it cook as long as it takes.