When I was a kid, we had a yellow, round electric skillet that was pulled out on Saturday mornings when Dad would make an omelet and for weeknight dinners when Mom would make sauteed zucchini. I always loved this vegetable side dish, especially the parmesan cheese from the green can that she sprinkled on just near the end of cooking.
I remember once trying to recreate the dish at my friend Lisa's while I was in middle school. I didn't get it quite right and made a mess of her mother's skillet when the cheese stuck everywhere but the zucchini. To this day, I still have trouble replicating her dish. It's possible that it's one of those things that tastes better in my memory than in reality. But then again, summer squash is a delicate thing that wants to be treated just right. Unlike its fall and winter counterparts, summer squash has a soft flesh and needs only minimal cooking. Cooked too long and it turns into a soggy mash; not long enough and it's got the bite of al dente pasta.
Perhaps it was that giant nonstick electric skillet that yielded the perfect zucchini. Then again it could have been the cheese from the green can that helped absorb the excess liquid. It was probably some wacky combination of all of these things along with my mom's technique. Whatever it was, it was delicious, and I've finally found a way to recreate the same flavor. The look is different, however. My mom sliced her squash into discs about a quarter of an inch thick while I trimmed the ends and then sliced them once, lengthwise.
The result is a zucchini that is cooked through yet firm enough to hold its shape. And the salty parmesan plays well upon the slight sweetness of the squash. The dish is an easy side or could also make for a fun appetizer.
Broiled Zucchini topped with Parmesan
2 medium zucchini, washed and ends trimmed
1/4 cup or more grated parmesan
Salt & Pepper
Preheat the oven on its broiler setting. Cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise. Place them on a cookie sheet with the cut sides facing up. Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place under the broiler for approximately 7 minutes and check for doneness. The exact time will depend on how large your zucchini are. It is done when the squash is tender and the edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and top with parmesan cheese. Return to oven to melt and brown cheese, roughly 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.