Oh yeah, that zucchini salad

June 21, 2010

I did promise a post about that too, didn’t I? Last post for the night, and then I’ll be mostly caught up. (: Thanks for bearing with me!

So like any crazy person who plants zucchini, we’ve already got plenty growing off of just one plant. And of course, there’s some in the CSA box. Well, no offense to the nice folks who run our CSA, but we’re going to eat the home-grown stuff first, ’cause you just can’t get fresher than that.

It was pretty hot this afternoon in sunny SoCal. I really didn’t want to do a lot of cooking after all the out-in-the-sun pruning tomatoes and tying up cucumbers and doing small amounts of helping out with fixing our drip lines and picking fruit and squashes and so forth. (Especially ’cause this morning was also spent being hot out on the roller hockey rink. Whoof. Thirty pounds of goalie gear and 80+ degrees … that’s warm.)

So aside from making the peach-ricotta sandwiches I blogged about earlier, I made a raw zucchini salad. This is actually kind of unusual for me. Typical zucchini side dish in this household is: slice zucchini, chop onions, sauté in olive oil with a couple minced cloves of garlic and a generous sprinkle of oregano until nicely caramelized. I don’t usually like raw zucchini, to be honest — there’s this bitter-slimy flavor that a typical raw zucchini has that’s kinda nasty. But I remembered seeing Giada deLaurentiis doing a raw zucchini and asparagus salad, ages ago, and I’ll admit, I like her style. Everything I’ve ever seen her make has looked fantastic. So I figured … why not? The worst that can happen is I don’t like it raw, and I end up cooking it up anyway.

I’m pleased to note that the zucchini, pattypan squash, onions, and basil all came from my yard. No homegrown garlic — I used the last of it making barbecue sauce for Father’s Day. I am definitely looking forward to planting more garlic this year.

I trawled the web for several zucchini salad recipes, and this is what I ended up making, as kind of a combination of all of the ones I thought looked cool:

Zucchini-Pattypan Salad

Serves 4

  • several baby zucchini and pattypan squash, sliced as thinly as possible (I think I used about four of each — the zucchini were no bigger than two fingers and the pattypans no bigger than an old-school silver dollar)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • zest of half a lemon, minced
  • a couple springs of basil, chiffonade
  • juice of half a lemon, plus a little squeeze from the other half
  • really good extra-virgin olive oil — use the best you have
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

You can slice your zucchini paper-thin with a veggie peeler or a mandoline or a knife, whatever you prefer. I used a knife; my mandoline tends to be wasteful. Combine the zucchini with the garlic, green onion, basil, and lemon zest. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for about half an hour to allow the flavors to blend.

Raw Zucchini Salad

Light and refreshing!

I was pleasantly surprised! The salad was cool, refreshing, full of flavor, and none of that icky slippery-bitter raw zucchini taste. I’m pretty sure using baby zucchini is a huge part of that; I wouldn’t try making this with the typical big zucchini.

I’d definitely make and eat this salad again. (And I probably will, given that I think I counted four more baby zucchini out there today … ) There were some leftovers, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they turn out, and if it marinates up nicely or if it doesn’t hold well overnight.

I also think this would pair just as nicely with a Japanese meal as it would with an Italian one, though you might want to season it slightly differently. Perhaps with rice vinegar and sesame oil like a cucumber salad. Well, depending on what you’re eating. I think it’d go fine with an unagi rice bowl as-is.

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