Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Tried Zucchini and I Liked It

Ever since a rather unfortunate incident in my childhood, I had vowed never again to eat zucchini. At the behest of my parents, I had taken a small nibble of the bitter, soggy vegetable in order to have a plate of Oreos for dessert. As much as I once loved Oreos, I remain unconvinced that my minuscule tasting of zucchini was possibly worth it.

Well owe it up to a bout of locavore lunacy, but guess what ended up in my Greenmarket tote last weekend? Yes, two heirloom varieties of the forsaken fruit (complementary membership to the Culinary Studio Fan Club for anyone who can remind me what varieties these are):

After cursing myself for purchasing a food I had vowed never to eat again I decided that I better suck it up and eat my zucchini. After all, it had been about 17 years since I had last tried it; I may have not matured by much in that time, but I'd like to think that my palate has. It was time to give zucchini another chance.

Owing zucchini a fair opportunity to make me take back all the bad names I had called it and the ugly glances I had given it on restaurant menus, I took care to peruse my cookbooks to come up with a recipe that made the vegetable sound palatable. Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg's The Flavor Bible stated that black olives, pecorino cheese, mint, and lemon juice pair well with zucchini, and since I had all of the ingredients on hand, I decided to make a raw zucchini salad with them. I also owe thanks to Nate Appleman's A16: Food + Wine for additional inspiration on both the technique and the recipe.

So, did the recipe give me a new found love for zucchini? While I doubt I will be craving zucchini in the near future, I no longer count myself among the zucchini haters. Hell, I ate two platefuls. Zucchini and I have come a very long way indeed.

Zucchini Salad with Mint, Pecorino, and Lemon
Serves 4

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 handful mint, minced
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  1. Cut ends of zucchini and discard. Thinly slice zucchini lengthwise.
  2. Place zucchini in a colander and toss with kosher salt. Let colander sit in the sink until zucchini begins to wilt and soften, about ten minutes. Rinse zucchini well and pat dry. Set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss well. Serve immediately.

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