So, zucchini season is upon us. Zucchini doesn’t get a lot of love, partly because – let’s face it – it’s not very flavorful. I do like to use zucchini (and other summer squashes) in a few different summery stews and soups, and it is good in muffins or quick breads — but for the most part, there’s not much to love about zucchini, other than its ubiquity.
However, this recipe is a great way to highlight what IS nice about zucchini – a crisp, clean texture (when treated right), and a bright, somewhat grassy flavor (brought out with carefully chosen ingredients). It also sidesteps the whole watery issue by salting ahead of time, which draws out excess moisture. This is also a good way to serve a non-lettuce salad, for those days when you don’t have any good lettuce in the crisper drawer, or when you’re completely burnt out on the leaves. It is also very inexpensive and all of the ingredients can come from your pantry, which is helpful when you’re trying to put something together quickly and cheaply.
To shave the zucchini, you can use a peeler or a mandoline.
Here’s my cute squid peeler:
And here is my mandoline:
I liked this so much that I made it twice in a row – once to go with dinner, and the next day for lunch with a fried egg on top. Like most things, it is made even better with an egg.
Shaved Zucchini Salad
serves 2 – 4 as a side
1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed off
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1/2 fresh jalapeno
1/4 cup toasted, slivered or sliced almonds (or if you’re feeling flush, 1/4 cup pine nuts)
about 1 ounce Parmesan cheese (or any other hard cheese – Pecorino Romano would be good, as would any hard Mexican cheese)
Use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to slice the zucchini thinly. Form your slices into a stack and cut in half so you have little flags of zucchini that are a few inches long. Toss the zucchini with the salt and let it sit in a colander over the sink for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil and lemon together. Smash the garlic and toss it in with the vinaigrette. If you’re using a fresh jalapeno, slice it very thin on a mandoline. Once the zucchini is ready, squeeze it lightly and toss well with the dressing, red pepper flakes, and almonds. Shave the cheese thinly over the zucchini with a peeler or mandoline, fish out the garlic clove, and serve.