I've never been much of a traditional salad girl, preferring just about anything to a pile of uncooked greens haphazardly dotted with chopped veggies. I know I need the produce, though. So, when a good alternative presents its raw, delicious self, I'm all over it.
Zucchini Carpaccio with Feta and Pine Nuts appeared in a recent Chow roundup of crudo, ceviche, and tartare recipes. While it's not a conventional carpaccio (which involves raw meat), it does involve a similar preparation. Fresh, light, and gorgeous, it's also excellent for using up zucchini and summer squash. And god knows we're about to be bombarded by those guys.
The one drawback: the dish doesn't, as Chow noted, take only five minutes to assemble. The arrangement alone runs about seven or eight, and depending on your slicing/mandolining skills, the whole assembly process could take three times as long. You'll still be out of the kitchen in under a half-hour, but be warned: it's a tad more time-consuming than a regular salad.
Beyond that, though it's not necessary, you can toast the pine nuts for a slightly nuttier flavor. And while the salad is fine at room temperature, it could benefit from a few minutes of chilling in the fridge. Oregano or parsley could substitute well for mint, as well.
Someday, my nutritional requirements may supersede my antipathy towards everyday green salads. Until then, dishes like this one fill in just fine.
medium zucchini or summer squash
teaspoon grated lemon zest
teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
cup crumbled feta cheese
tablespoons loosely packed fresh mint, coarsely chopped (Oregano or parsley could substitute )
tablespoons pine nuts
1 Chop stem ends off zucchini/squash. Slice each into paper-thin rounds, using a knife, box grater, mandolin, food processor, or whatever else you have on hand.
2 In a medium bowl, combine zucchini rounds and lemon zest. Toss very gently to coat, or risk tearing the veggies apart.
3 Place zucchini on a plate in a pretty pattern, overlapping slightly.
4 Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with feta, mint, and pine nuts. Serve immediately or chill for a few minutes.