Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Zucchini Carpaccio with Lemon and Herbs

It’s nearly July but it feels like summer just started. [Probably because technically today is the first day of summer, and also because it was so chilly until just a few weeks ago.] My CSA share is still all about late spring - lettuce, strawberries, herbs, radishes - which further reinforces this "it's barely summer" feeling, but the Carroll Gardens greenmarket looked a little more summery this past Sunday, what with piles of zucchini and their blossoms.

As is now customary in my family, my parents came over for a homemade brunch for Fathers Day (and, yes, we have my mom over for Mothers Day). The menu consisted entirely of one of my dad’s favorite foods: pizza. I planned to make three different types, but realized only that morning that I really needed something else with which to start off our meal.

My fridge is brimming with lettuce (much of which got turned into a big glass of juice last night – there is only so much lettuce one can eat and with Matt gone this week, I have to pull double duty on this week’s CSA share) so I had planned to make a chopped salad with radishes (also from our CSA share), pistachios, and a lime vinaigrette. But when I spotted zucchini at the market – where I had gone to buy some maitake mushrooms for one of the pizzas but had arrived moments after someone bought the entire inventory, leaving me with creminis – I had to have it.

This salad is a total cinch to make but delivers big flavor and texture. It’s best to slice the zucchini with a mandoline, but if you have a sharp knife and patience, you can pull it off just as well.  [I have the former but not so much of the latter – hence the mandoline I got for Christmas.]  The zucchini were so tender and mild that I didn’t want to overwhelm them with too many other ingredients. A splash of lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper for balance, and a handful of fresh basil and mint from my windowsill herb garden were all that were needed to make this stunning side dish. I was actually surprised at just how good it was – a shining example of the power and beauty of fresh, local produce.


Zucchini Carpaccio with Lemon and Herbs
serves 4 as a side dish
vegan and gluten-free

1 ½ pounds zucchini or summer squash (2 large or 3 small zucchini)
10-12 large basil leaves
¼ cup loosely packed small mint leaves
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Trim the ends off the zucchini. Use a mandoline or sharp knife to cut the zucchini into very thin rounds (about 1/16”). Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl.

Chop the basil and mint and add to the bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to mix. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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