The time of year is upon us when I’m up to my eyeballs in zucchini, peppers and tomatoes. Don’t get me wrong- I am not complaining! I am very, very grateful that I have kind people around me that share their plentiful harvest with us. But when you’re eating the same vegetables and fruits day after day, you do start to get a little bored…or at least I do.
The miserable 100 degree weather we’re experiencing doesn’t help matters either. There is no way I want to turn on the oven right now. Ick. The thought of baking anything makes me cringe. Instead, I just want something fairly quick and easy, that doesn’t require heating up the kitchen, and is full of flavor. That’s not asking too much is it?
While scrounging through my cookbooks, I came upon this recipe for a zucchini salad. I had every single ingredient on hand, and it didn’t seem to involve more than 10-15 minutes cook time. A few minutes on the stovetop, and voila!– I’ve got a gourmet salad with some beautiful colors and textures.
Warm Zucchini Salad
Serves 4 as side salad, 2 as main dish. From The Food and Wine Lover's Diet
2 Tbsp pine nuts
10 large basil leaves
2 zucchini (about 6 oz each)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, very finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, cut into 1/4" dice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, quartered
Freshly ground pepper
4 cups mixed baby salad greens
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (high quality!)
2 tsp finely chopped oregano
In a small, dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, stirring constantly, until they just begin to turn light brown, about 1 minute. Immediately pour them into a small bowl to cool.
Stack half of the basil leaves on top of one another and roll into a tight cylinder. Cut rolled leaves crosswise to make thin strips. Repeat with the remaining leaves and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, mandoline, or sharp knife, cut each zucchini lengthwise into strips resembling wide noodles. Discard the pieces that are mostly skin.
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini strips and gently stir and toss, being careful not to break the strips, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and mustard and stir until the butter melts and the vegetables are evenly coated. Add the tomatoes and stir until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the greens among 4 salad plates. Arrange the vegetables on top of the greens, dividing evenly. Top with toasted pine nuts, basil strips, Parmesan, and oregano, dividing evenly and serve.