This side dish is best made with tender small zucchini early in the season, not the behemoths of late summer. Don't stint on the high heat used to brown them; it helps create a pan sauce that is almost meaty (and good for sopping up with bread). Cut the zucchini just before you start cooking; otherwise, it starts to curl, and the spears should be flat so they will brown evenly.
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Raise the heat to medium-high. Sprinkle the zucchini with salt and pepper. When the oil is very hot but not quite smoking, add the zucchini, cut side down. (Be careful: The cut zucchini starts to release water as soon as you salt it, so it might spit a bit in the skillet.) Cook, undisturbed, until the bottom side is deep golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn to the other cut side and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Now turn the zucchini onto the skin sides, turn off the heat, cover and let sit until very tender (the tip of a paring knife inserted into the zucchini should meet no resistance), 2 to 4 minutes.
Sprinkle the lemon juice and most of the zest over the zucchini, return the garlic and rosemary to the skillet and use a rubber spatula or tongs to gently turn the zucchini a few times to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the zucchini to the platter and pour the pan juices on top. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
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