Summer squash shines when it’s panfried until golden and drizzled with toasty chili oil, creamy chopped burrata, and fresh torn basil. Take advantage of the season and choose a colorful assortment of squash varieties while they’re available for the prettiest presentation—I prefer scallopedged patty pan squash or buttery yellow zucchini. Adding burrata as a topping rather than in a single blob ensures that every bite gets just the right amount of creaminess, which helps offset some of the spice from the chili oil. (Feel free to use a store-bought option or any other chili oil you already have on hand.) Serve with slices of crusty bread to mop up all the good stuff, or toss in a half pound of pasta to make it a meal.
- Make the chili oil. Place the garlic and chili flakes in a small heatproof bowl or jar. Heat the oil, Sichuan peppercorns, and star anise in a small skillet over medium heat for 2 to 4 minutes or until the oil is very hot and shimmery and small bubbles begin to rise around the spices. Pour the hot oil through a fine mesh sieve over the chili and garlic mixture. The mixture should sizzle and release a toasty aroma. Stir in the salt, and then let oil sit for 10 to 20 minutes before using so that the flavors can meld. Once cooled a bit, taste and adjust the salt if necessary.
- Cut the burrata into 1-inch pieces. It will be messy, so just do the best you can. Set aside.
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of butter to allow it to melt, swirling it around the pan. Working in two batches, add the squash in a (mostly) single layer and cook, flipping occasionally, until the squash is tender and lightly browned in places. The bottom of the pan may begin to brown as well, if it begins to get too dark, reduce the heat to medium. Mix in a generous pinch of salt and transfer the squash to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the squash, adding more butter to the pan as necessary.
- Arrange the burrata pieces evenly over the squash. Tear the basil leaves in half—any smaller leaves can be left whole—and scatter them over the squash, followed by 2 to 3 tablespoons of chili oil. Serve immediately with crusty bread and extra chili oil on the table.
- Note: Chili oil will keep for up to a month or longer in an airtight container in the fridge. Use only clean utensils when handling the chili oil to help it last longer.
Zola Gregory is a writer and recipe developer based in Seattle. Having previously worked as a pastry chef and baker, she now enjoys helping others find success in their own kitchens through her stories, recipes, and baking classes.