For years, I have thought that my family – with the exception of my granddaughter, Canada, hated zucchini so I never cooked it. Another exception – I do like zucchini bread which I make all summer when the squash beds are verdant with bulbs. (See the recipe in the cookbook idea, An American Family Cooks) Now, after all this time, I’ve learned that Steve, my dear photographing husband, actually likes zucchini, too. So beginning this spring, it has frequently been on the menu, particularly sliced, tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and roasted. With summer, I hate to turn on the oven so we have moved onto zucchini salad. It has become a favorite and since zucchini is so mild, it can be doctored up with whatever I find in the fridge – Chinese flavors, Thai flavors, Italian flavors, you name it, zucchini will absorb them all.
Here is one version – it should serve 4 to 6 people. Don’t worry about the cheese, it is simply what I had on hand – any hard cheese would work or no cheese at all. The vegetables can be prepared in advance, covered, and refrigerated, but don’t mix the salad until just before serving as the zucchini will wilt and the basil discolor.
1½ pounds zucchini, washed, trimmed, and shaved on a mandoline or other
1 carrot, trimmed, peeled, and shaved with a vegetable peeler
½ cup slivered Vidalia or other sweet onion
¼ cup slivered basil leaves
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons moscato vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Ricotta salata, optional
Combine the zucchini, carrot, onion, and basil in a large salad bowl.
Combine the olive oil and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste and whisk to emulsify. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat evenly. Taste and, if necessary, add seasoning – if using the cheese be careful not to over-salt.
When plating, using a vegetable peeler, shave strips of the cheese over each serving and dust with cracked black pepper.