Raw Zucchini Salad with Parrano & Toasted Pine Nuts

August 18, 2011


Appetizers, Dinner, Local Eating, Lunch, Recipes, Seasons, Side Dishes, Summer

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Zucchini, summer squash: crunchy, crisp, soft, charred, somewhat sweet, sometimes runny, best salted. I love these things. I hear a lot of people moan about how much is coming out of the ground. Too much, some say. Too much?  I’ve eaten a lot of zucchini this summer, but it feels like our affair just got started.

I am enamored with raw zucchini. I love the stuff, why hide it? Some people bake it into bread, (which is one of my favorite things to eat, no doubt) some into cookies. I haven’t seen a zucchini ice cream, but I have seen it crystalized as a cake topper. If you are sick of summer squash, there are limitless ways of serving it secretly… tucking it neatly into something else and feeding it to folks without saying so. Or candying it and brandishing it as ribbons and bows on a frosting-wrapped cake.

I find that the secret to eating it unabashedly uncooked is slicing it thin. If you get it with a mandoline, or cut it into tiny matchsticks, zucchini absorbs the flavor of what you put with it and isn’t overpowering. In my case, it most often becomes a delightfully crunchy vehicle for Parrano cheese and toasted pine nuts. If you haven’t tried Parrano cheese, brace yourself: it is the slickest baby Parmesan and Gouda could have—smooth, sweet, salty, slightly sharp. Yes, it really is all of those things.

This can be served with lettuce or without, although I find that a bed of greens acts as a nice cradle for drippy vinaigrette. Lettuce helps in preventing a plate from puddle-ing up. I could see this sliced zucchini served on top of cold quinoa or wild rice, in which case the leaves would be unnecessary.

Also- somewhere during my summer squash romance, Christopher and I packed up our entire house and moved it from Texas to Vermont. (The zucchini is equally good in both places, although I feel like I’ve cheated the seasons: summer squash, tomatoes, corn and other hot-weather wonders started appearing in May down south, while they’re just cresting here.) This picture was taken as one of our last lonestar meals, and the camera is at large, so please use your imagination to picture how beautiful this salad can be. Now that I’m settled, there’s more zucchini to come.

Raw Zucchini Salad with Parrano and Toasted Pine Nuts

Serves 2 as a generous appetizer, 4 as a side-dish

For the Dressing

Combine 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard with 6 tablespoons of champagne or white vinegar.

Add 2 teaspoons of honey, a dash of salt and a crack of pepper.

Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley.

Stir to combine.

Slowly, drizzle in ¾ c of olive oil until emulsified.

Set aside. (You will likely have enough for tomorrow.)

For the Zucchini

Slice 1 zucchini and 1 summer squash into think strips, preferably with a mandoline. Cut into 3” pieces.

In a medium bowl, pour enough dressing over the zucchini to coat.

Let this marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Just before serving, thinly slice ½ c Parrano cheese and toast ½ c pine nuts.

If using lettuce, coat greens lightly in dressing in your serving bowl.

In their bowl, toss zucchini and summer squash with cheese.

Place zucchini in a serving dish, (possibly over greens) and garnish with toasted pine nuts.

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