Friday, August 5, 2011

What to Do with Summer Zucchini: Make a Salad

When the zucchini first appears in the farmers' markets, it need not be cooked for best flavor. Thinly sliced with a mandoline, or a vegetable peeler in a pinch, the slightly crunchy, lightly sweet, raw ribbons of flesh are the perfect vehicle for high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch of flaky sea salt, sweet and juicy raisins, and creamy almonds. I never thought I'd fall in love with one of my favorite vegetables all over again in its raw state, but this is the salad that precipitated that (and it's great to serve on a steaming hot summer day).

I’ve prepared this a couple ways over the past couple of weeks. Initially I used toasted walnuts and creamy Gruyere shavings for flavor. Then I had a surplus of Parmigiano, which I found to be the perfect pairing for lightly salted roasted nuts (pine nuts, pistachios, etc) and raisins. And now that I can’t have cheese (or pistachios or raisins – but I’ve broken that rule with the bag of amazing French raisins at home) I’ll use a sprinkling of oil and shavings of basil along with dried sour cherries and raw almonds. So simple, yet so good – the secret is in the quality of the zucchini!

Raw Zucchini Salad with Roasted Almonds (or Walnuts) and Raisins

2 green zucchini, washed, trimmed, and sliced into thin ribbons
High-quality extra-virgin olive oil, such as Planeta
Maldon salt, to taste
1/2 cup roasted almonds (unsalted) or toasted walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
3 ounces thinly sliced Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Gruyere)

In a bowl, combine the zucchini with olive oil and salt. Toss to coat.
Add in the nuts, raisins, and Parmigiano. Toss again and serve immediately at room temperature.

Serves 2
Here's the salad with gruyere and toasted walnuts:
And if you're in the mood for Parmigiano and almonds? Voila! 

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