In the spirit of quick summer meals and cool kitchen gadgets, this recipe grabbed my attention as I was paging through the most recent Bon Appétit the other day.
Slicing things into very thin ribbons always seems to be a popular technique with the fancy-pants restaurants, but I wasn’t sure how practical it would be for the home cook. So I figured I’d give it a shot for this recipe which I happened to have almost all the ingredients for in my pantry. I just had to pick up a few zucchinis from the market.
1) Add the olive oil, lemon juice, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
2) Toast your pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes until they're lightly tan and fragrant. Watch them closely or they'll burn.
3) Wash your zucchini and chop the ends off. Using a peeler or mandoline, slice the zucchini into very thin slices. Also chop your basil roughly.
4) Add the zucchini, basil, and pine nuts to a bowl and drizzle in the dressing. Be careful not to over-dress the salad. Just add enough to lightly coat everything.
5) Piling the dressing on a plate and shave a few big slivers of Parmesan cheese over the dish. Serve it immediately!
This dressing is really simple but the flavors are very summery and intense.
Everything works really well in it and the red pepper flakes provide a good touch of heat to the dish. Don’t leave them out!
The Pine Nuts
Ok. A quick story. I was talking to a loyal reader (Hi Mom!) on the phone a few weeks ago and I was telling her my basic pesto ingredients. This was roughly our conversation:
Me: So yea… it’s just basil, garlic, olive oil, some parm cheese, and pine nuts. All mixed together.
Mom: Pine nuts?! I don’t eat pine nuts.
Me: Really? I didn’t realize you were allergic to them.
Mom: I’m not.
Mom: I don’t eat them because they fall on the ground where animals umm… you know… do their business.
Me: *MUFFLED LAUGHS* You realize that almost all the fruits and veggies you eat are on or near the ground at some point right mom?
Mom: Well… I just don’t like them.
But in all seriousness, I love my mother. And I love pine nuts. Especially when you toast them.
Anytime you’re toasting pine nuts, do it in a dry skillet over low to medium-low heat. They’re done when they turn slightly tan and smell really good. Keep a really close eye on them because they’ll go from perfect to burned in about 15 seconds. It’ll take under 5 minutes to toast them.
For this recipe try to find some smaller zucchini. They’ll shred easier into small ribbons. Leave those gargantuan zucchini for zucchini bread or something.
Wash them and chop the ends off.
The Part Where I Endorse An Infomercial Product
I’m not sure that I’ve ever done this before, but I’m pretty sure that The Titan Peeler was an infomercial thing at one point and I just got it as a wedding gift.
I absolutely love this peeler (seriously they aren’t paying me to say this… I wish they were). They’re sturdy and work like a charm. In fact, they might work almost too well. You have to be really careful or you can take off a piece of skin without even noticing.
The one caveat is that I haven’t used these enough yet to speak to their durability, but they seem very well constructed actually and are really sturdy. I can’t see why it wouldn’t last for many years.
And they make really quick work of something like zucchini.
It took me maybe a minute to make those pretty ribbons.
I also chopped up a good handful of fresh basil for the salad.
Then just mix everything (except the parmesan cheese) in a medium bowl.
My advice is to go light on the dressing. It’s a very strong lemon flavor and can easily overpower the other flavors in the salad. Add just barely enough to lightly coat everything.
You don’t want pools of dressing here people.
Pile all of this high on a plate and shred some really good Parmesan cheese right on top.
Now that’s a good lookin’ salad.
I loved this dish for two reasons. First, it just tasted like summer. The fresh zucchini and lemon and everything was really light and refreshing. Second, it looks way harder to make than it actually is so you can impress your friends and loved ones.
So if you can get around the fact that the pine nuts may have been poked and prodded by a real live animal, you should totally give this salad a shot!
Ok. I’m done making fun of my Mom… for now anyway.