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Saturday, July 30, 2011


Ah, A16, it was bound to happen.  You have let me down.

Wednesday brought our biweekly CSA box, chock-full of fresh fruits and vegetables, mostly from the Pacific Northwest.  When possible, David and I plan our evening meal around the contents of the box.  Neither of us is a vegetarian, but when there is an array of fresh veg that needs to be eaten--some of it right now--it's a good way to go.

Among the contents of our box was zucchini, one of my favorite summer vegetables, and white sweet corn.  I tried two A16 recipes, grilled corn and a raw zucchini salad.  The corn cobs, cut in half, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled over a pile of hot coals for about five minutes, was brilliant:  charred black in some spots, salty and soft and sweet.  It tasted exactly like summer should.

We also grilled some bread, which we served with a schmear of fromage blanc.
The zucchini salad is more or less zucchini shaved into ribbons--time consuming but not difficult with a good peeler--drained of some of their water content by salting them and leaving them to drain in a colander.  Dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, the ribbons are then tossed with chopped mint, parsley and green olives and topped with shards of Romano cheese.

And here is where the letdown happened, and I can't totally explain it:  the salad was simultaneously bland and overdone.  The parsley added nothing other than a little color, and the mint overwhelmed the delicate taste of the zucchini.  In a word, meh.

There is a similar salad on, which collects many of the recipes from Bon Appetit and the late, lamented Gourmet.  It has fewer ingredients and is vastly superior to the salad above:

Shaved Zucchini Salad
Adapted from

Juice of one small lemon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

2 lbs. medium zucchini
Parmesan cheese for shaving
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Wash the zucchini and cut off the ends.  Shave into ribbons either using a paring knife or (preferably) a really good vegetable peeler.  Set aside and toast the pine nuts lightly.  Combine the first set of ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Letting the vinaigrette sit for about half an hour intensifies the flavors, but don't dress the salad until you are ready to eat.  When ready, toss the zucchini ribbons with the vinaigrette.  Shave Parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle with the pine nuts.

Now that's a zucchini salad.

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