"This is lunch?" asked an unimpressed fifteen-year old when encountering nothing but small plates of thin-sliced zucchini on the kitchen table. But with a go-along-to-get-along attitude, my nephew Alex attacked the zucchini and quickly allowed, "This is good, really really good."
For me, it was a lesson in the power of simplicity, how superior ingredients create the possibility of "so much more from a whole lot less". The lesson comes courtesy of the craftsmanship and generosity of the folks at O Olive Oil. These thin slices of baby zucchini are dressed with nothing more than (really really) good olive oil, (really really) good vinegar and a sprinkling of Maldon salt.
Then over the course of ten days, he learned how to make salad dressing, experimenting with sluicing the oil and vinegar with a fork, some times adding a dollop of mustard, other times fresh herbs from the side garden, matching orange to beets and lemon (and honey, his favorite) to zucchini.
Each new combination was a sensual delight, brightening salad greens and coaxing new depths of flavor from vegetables raw and roasted.
"Yummmm," I'd think, quoting a favorite olive-oil maker.
"We could drink this," said the fifteen-year old after whisking together a clear sunny-colored vinaigrette of meyer lemon olive oil and a champagne vinegar. He was right, we could have.
For simplicity like this, quality counts. It's a lesson not to be forgotten.
And while I've never before purchased really good olive oil or good vinegar, it's a lesson that has me budgeting for the good stuff from now on. My mental gyrations go like this: I happily spend $20 a pound for really good meat that's devoured in a single meal. But what if I skip the meat to purchase a bottle of olive oil that will grace lovely salads for an entire month? That's a deal I can live with.
WHAT IS CARPACCIO? Pronounced [kahr-PAH-chee-oh], carpaccio is an Italian dish, thin slices of raw beef, usually served as an appetizer. By extension, a zucchini carpaccio is thin slices of, yup, zucchini.
FULL DISCLOSURE In 2007 O Olive Oil provided complimentary samples of oil and vinegar in exchange for a fair and honest review. In 2015, I remain a big fan of O Olive Oil and order a case or half case a couple of times a year. It's our go-to "good oil" and "good vinegar" for salads and touches of oil for fresh vegetables. Delicious, this stuff.
Time to table: 15 minutes
2 baby zucchini (1 per person, about 1/8 pound each)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 teaspoon good vinegar
Fresh herbs, for garnish, optional
Slice the zucchini as thin as you can, a Japanese mandoline helps but a sharp, thin paring knife works beautifully too. Whisk the oil and vinegar together and drizzle it over the slices. Sprinkle with salt. See what I mean? Super Simple!
Enjoy, immensely, immediately.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
PROPORTIONS Of course, your own proportions. We started off with 3:1 oil:vinegar but another time tried 4:1 oil:vinegar with a little honey, very very good!
GARNISHES Fresh mint is gorgeous, so are pea sprouts.
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MORE FAVORITE SIMPLE ZUCCHINI RECIPES~ Simple Zucchini Ribbon Salad ~
~ Fried Zucchini Sticks vs Baked Zucchini Sticks ~
~ Zucchini with Tomatoes & Cheddar ~
~ more summer squash recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Zucchini Spiral "Noodle" Salad ~
~ Carrot & Zucchini Bread ~
~ Mediterranean Eggplant ~
~ more summer squash recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
COOKING IN SEASON: THIS SAME WEEK ACROSS THE YEARSEggplant, Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwiches Southern Farm-Stand Stew (< this week's healthy favorite!) Fresh Tomato with Fresh Mozzarella Artichoke & Pepper Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Zucchini Timbale with Cheese (Crustless Zucchini Cheese Pie) My First Panzanella Clean-out-the-Fridge Noodle Bowl Spring & Summer Sliced Salad What Is This Pan? Carrot & Sesame Salad Jicama Slaw Cucumbers in Vinegar Zucchini Carpaccio Cowboy Coleslaw Farro with Beet Greens How to Keep Fresh Vegetables Fresh Longer Raw Eggplant Salad Tossed Caprese Salad Falling In Love with Green Beans: Favorite Recipes Creamy Feta Mousse with Greek Salads < just gorgeous! Crustless Quiche with Greens & Garden Vegetables Vegetables 101: What Is a Tomatillo?
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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