How to Sauté Summer Vegetables

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Relatively delicate vegetables are ideal for sautéing, or quick cooking over high heat — such as the ripe bell peppers and sweet squashes of summer. This method sears the exteriors of the veggies for delicious caramelization and golden brown crusts, while the insides stay tender and crisp. Even if you sauté regularly, these simple tips for prepping produce and heat the pan can help you achieve the best results every time.

 

Keep reading for our basic recipe and step-by-step guide to perfectly sautéed vegetables, then give it a try with your favorite summer ingredients.

 

Sautéed Vegetables

 

1 1/2 lb. zucchini or other summer squash, bell peppers, thick asparagus, or other vegetable suitable for sautéing

2 Tbs. olive oil

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Pinch of freshly ground pepper

 

Cut up the vegetables
Trim the vegetables and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Zucchini are good quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Bell peppers are best cut lengthwise into slices about 3/8 inch thick. Asparagus are nice cut on the diagonal into larger 1 1/2-inch pieces or smaller 1/4-inch pieces.
Heat the pan
Place a large fry pan over high heat and let it heat for a few moments. While the pan is heating, place all your ingredients near the stove. To test the heat level, hold your hand over the pan until you can feel the heat rising.
Add the oil
When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Tilt and swirl the pan to coat it with an even layer of the oil. Let the oil heat for several seconds.
Add the vegetables
As soon as the surface of the oil appears to shimmer, quickly add the vegetable pieces to the pan. Toss to coat the vegetables with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Sauté the vegetables
Move the vegetable pieces around in the pan briskly, either sliding the pan back and forth with little jerks to make them hop, or stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula. Continue to sauté the vegetables, tossing or stirring occasionally until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes for zucchini or 4 to 7 minutes for bell peppers or asparagus.
Test for doneness
To test the vegetables for doneness, insert the tip of a paring knife into a piece of vegetable. The vegetable should be tender but still slightly firm at the center. If the vegetables are not quite ready, sauté them for another 30 to 60 seconds and test again. Don’t stir too often, because contact with the pan will give the vegetables the caramelized flavor of high-heat cooking.

 

Variations

 

Sautéed Zucchini with Lemon-Herb Bread Crumbs

Follow the recipe for sautéed vegetables using zucchini. In a small fry pan over low heat, toss 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs with 2 teaspoons olive oil until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram and toss for a minute or two. Transfer to a small bowl. Top the sautéed zucchini with the toasted bread-crumb mixture.

 

Sautéed Asparagus with Fresh Herbs

Follow the recipe for sautéed vegetables using asparagus. Toss the sautéed asparagus with 1 tablespoon slivered fresh basil or finely chopped fresh chervil, cilantro or flat-leaf (Italian) parsley.

One comment about “How to Sauté Summer Vegetables

  1. S Pavlus

    This is my sighnature side dish. I usually use mushrooms, onions & snow or snap peas too. The onions realy carmelize nicely & enhance the flavors.

    Reply

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