Crispy Pan-Seared Chicken and Zucchini with Olives and Lemon

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell

This recipe will amaze the zucchini-averse and anyone who thinks they’ve had zukes every which way. Crosshatching and salting the zucchini for 10 minutes before cooking removes excess moisture and lets the seasoning penetrate all the way through. Next, a hard sear in the fat left over from cooking chicken thighs keeps them crisp-tender. Douse them with a lemony garlic oil studded with olives and chiles, and you’ll love zucchini forever.

Yield
2 servings
Active Time
40 minutes
Total Time
40 minutes

Ingredients

    • 3 small zucchini or summer squash (about 1 lb.)
    • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
    • 7 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 4 skin-on, boneless chicken thighs (if unavailable, remove bones from skin-on, bone-in thighs with kitchen shears)
    • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup Castelvetrano olives, smashed, pits removed, torn
    • 1 Tbsp. oregano leaves
    • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
    • Lemon wedges (for serving)

Preparation

    1. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using the tip of your knife, deeply score cut sides in a crosshatch pattern, spacing about 1/2" apart. Toss zucchini and 1 tsp. salt in a colander set over a bowl. Let sit 10 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels (discard any liquid in bowl).
    2. Meanwhile, coat a large cast-iron skillet with 1 Tbsp oil. Season chicken on all sides with 1/4 tsp. pepper and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and arrange in cold skillet (skin side down) in a single layer. Heat over medium and cook, undisturbed, until skin is deep golden brown and chicken is almost cooked through, 10–12 minutes. Turn chicken and continue to cook just until cooked through and lightly browned underneath, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter (skin side up).
    3. Arrange zucchini (cut side down) in hot chicken fat in skillet. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until surfaces are charred, 6–8 minutes. Turn and continue to cook until skin side is browned, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to platter with chicken.
    4. Heat garlic and remaining 6 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium until garlic is sizzling and just barely beginning to brown, 3–4 minutes. Add chile and olives and cook, stirring occasionally, until chile starts to sizzle and brown slightly, 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in oregano and lemon zest.
    5. Spoon garlic oil over zucchini and chicken. Squeeze some lemon juice over and serve with additional wedges alongside.

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