We have hit that time of summer when the squash and zucchini are plentiful and we run out of things to do with them. There’s only so much zucchini bread one can make.

My go-to zucchini side dish is a zucchini boat from Ina Garten, which I’ve written about before, that involves topping sliced zucchini with herbs, garlic, Parmesan and panko bread crumbs and baking it. It’s still a family favorite at our house.

But sometimes, you have to change it up a bit. This recipe adapted from The New York Times’ website is a nod to cacio e pepe, a traditional pasta dish in Rome that gets its flavor from pepper and Parmesan.


3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

1 1/2 pounds small zucchini or summer squash, halved lengthwise

2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup torn basil or mint leaves

Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high for 2 minutes. Heat the oil, and when it shimmers, salt half of the zucchini and add it cut-side down in one layer, and cook, undisturbed, until it begins to turn golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes more on the other side. Remove from the pan and set aside on a serving plate; repeat with remaining zucchini.

While the second batch cooks, add pepper to a small saucepan and toast over medium heat until it becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and stir until the butter melts and the foam subsides. Remove from heat. Sprinkle Parmesan over seared zucchini, then spoon the butter over all and sprinkle with herbs. Serves 4.

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