Raw Zucchini and Parmesan Salad
A fresh and satisfying summertime use of young, small zucchini
- Servings: 4 as a side salad.
Most of us think of zucchini as a vegetable to eat only cooked, whether pan grilled, or cooked in a ratatouille, or steamed and tossed with a little sea salt.
But small, tender, locally grown zucchini are perfect to eat raw. I recently tried a raw zucchini recipe in a cookbook I was reviewing and was turned off by all the fuss that the author made, including a pile-on of ingredients. Because raw zucchini has a soft, subtle, fresh flavor, it only needs to be combined with a few peels of salty Parmesan cheese and a toss of your best olive oil and lemon juice. You'll have a new respect for this familiar vegetable.
You're goal is to cut the small zucchini into paper thin slices. The best way to get this result is with a mandoline slicer, a ceramic kitchen slicer, or a very sharp paring knife.
Avoid making this salad with large, fat zucchini because these usually have developed little seeds and can be squishy in the middle. Instead, always choose ones that are firm, small, and tender.
- 4 young, small zucchini or 1 1/2 pounds tiny baby zucchini (the kind that are the size of a finger)
- A block of good Parmigiano-Reggiano (don't try to make this recipe with cheese of lesser quality)
- 1 lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil. Your best.
- Using a mandoline, a ceramic kitchen slicer or a sharp paring knife, cut the zucchini into paper thin slices. Place in a serving bowl.
- Using a vegetable peeler, cut curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano so that you have about 1/2 cup of peels for 4 cups of zucchini slices.
- Gently toss to combine, taking care to not have the cheese pieces break up too much.
- Cut the lemon in half and squeeze over the zucchini and cheese combination.
- Drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Gently toss and taste. Add more lemon juice or olive oil to taste.
- Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Remember that the cheese is salty so you may not need much added salt.
- Serve immediately.
If you're uncertain about adding the lemon and olive oil separately, combine about 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of olive oil together in a small bowl and drizzle this combination over the zucchini and cheese mixture. Toss and add salt and pepper to taste.