There is something really gratifying about a side dish that’s quick, cheap, healthy and easy, especially when it impresses as elegant in it’s simplicity. Zucchini Carpaccio is a dish I was introduced to at Fig & Olive during Restaurant Week a few years back. I recall debating at the time, “should I opt for this as one of my 3 dishes on the Prix Fixe menu?” It almost seemed a waste in terms of value with more expensive dishes on the list. Yet in the end, my love for Zucchini won out and I’m ever so glad it did. The fresh yet mild green flavor of zucchini gets amped up with the zing of fresh lemon juice mixed with extra virgin olive oil. A dash of freshly grated, salty, nutty parmesan cheese and extra crunch from toasted nuts. I was in love instantly.
I’ve pulled out this side dish again and again since that lunch. I’ll admit, pine nuts are better to give the crunch than my last version with almonds (which is what I had on hand.) Yet still, Zucchini Carpaccio like all my favorite dishes is flexible, ready for adaptations and substitutions. It’s not rigid or specific and really takes no measurements.
If you pass it at the famers market and can’t resist, then don’t! Chances are when the summer squash season rolls around, you’ll have everything you need at home for this side the majority of the time if you cook much at all.
- 2 small to medium Zucchini well
- Zest & Juice of a Lemon
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
- Fresh Parmesan to Grate
- 2 Tbsp Toasted Pine Nuts
- Cut off both ends of Zucchini and discard
- Using a mandolin slice the Zucchini either length or width wise as thin as possible
- Layer the zucchini so the slices are just overlapping on a serving dish
- In a separate bowl wisk together the lemon zest and juice with olive oil
- Salt and pepper the dressing to taste then drizzle over the slices of zucchini
- Grate fresh parmesan over the freshly dressed zucchini
- Add a palm full of toasted pine nuts (or really almost any other nut you have at home in a pinch will do)
That’s it – you’re done!
If you don’t have a mandolin or the thought of using one makes your fingers shake, don’t worry – just slice as thin as you can across the width of the zucchini. I was too lazy to bring out my mandolin on this last round and was pleasantly surprised how slightly thicker slices still work just fine.)
- Select zucchini that are heavy for their size
- Store in the refrigerator unwashed for up to 5 days
- Skins should be shiny and even green with no blemishes
- One zucchini has approximately 25 calories and more potassium than a banana
- Smaller to medium sized zucchini are best, larger Zucchini tend to get a little bitter
- Finally my favorite, the word Zucchini comes from the Italian word Zucca for Squash
My Husband reminded me that Zucca also means Pumpkin in Italian. Yet when I served this up last, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the least bit confused.