One to thing to note about this effortless recipe is that BH loved it. I know that means zilch to you, but to me, it was a gold star. You see, BH likes pretty much everything I make, which is great, but he rarely uses exclamation points when describing food. But this recipe, with its unexpected smoky crunch, and pops of fiery chili were a hit. Not just with BH, but also to me, who definitely didn’t expect such a simple combination to cause helpings of seconds and thirds. Anyone wondering what to do with their summer glut of zucchini, beyond the usual breads and muffins, should take note and give this a whirl. You’ll make it over and over again, especially in the dead of summer when farmers’ markets and gardens are bursting at the seams with this summer squash. Truly, this recipe is a winner, a definite gold star.
The only time consuming bit is preparing the zucchini, but if you have a mandoline or food processor, it’s a wiz. Toast some chopped almonds, add the red chili flakes, zucchini and sauté until heated through. Season with coarse sea salt and a few grinds of pepper and you’re done.
As a side dish the health benefits of this vegetarian combo are great. Not only is zucchini high in fiber, but it also provides almost your entire recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, tons of vitamin C and potassium. While the almonds almost make you feel as if you’re eating something unhealthy because of their totally satisfying crunch, they are perhaps the most nutritionally important component to this summer dish. These little nuts are chock full of healthy monounsaturated fat, the type your body and cardio system crave to function properly and thrive. They’re full of magnesium and potassium, and also help control blood sugar spikes. One study even found that replacing 20% of dietary calories with almonds led to improved markers of insulin sensitivity and lower cholesterol levels (citation).
But, beyond my soapbox ramble about veggie this and vitamin that, this is a really good dish. I hope you give it a try. It’s BH approved.
Quick and Crunchy Zucchini with Almonds and Red Chili
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced almonds
- Heavy pinch of red chili flakes
- 2 small zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch matchsticks with a knife or julienne blade on a mandoline
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil on high in a large skillet. When it is hot but not smoking, add the almonds to the pan. Cook them, while stirring, until the almonds are golden-brown, approximately a minute or two. Add the red chili flakes.
Add the zucchini to the pan, tossing it with the oil and almonds until it just begins to glisten, about two to three minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.