July is a good time to enjoy young zucchini, before it becomes a overgrown burden come August. Zucchini (aka courgette in much of the world) is a versatile cooked vegetable – grilled, sauteed, shredded, stuffed. With its subtle taste and texture, zucchini is a useful partner in both savory dishes and baked treats.
Rarely do I eat raw zucchini, but in the hot summer I’m always looking for a good excuse not to cook. I love using my humble vegetable peeler to shave zucchini, transforming it from a pedestrian vegetable into a lovely pile of thin, delicate ribbons. A little olive oil and lemon, plus shavings of aged Parmesan cheese, makes an easy and different summer salad. Add fresh herbs if you have them, or chopped nuts for a heartier dish.
Count on one medium zucchini per person.
A mandoline would make even thinner shavings, but if I had one I’d probably be missing some fingers. For zucchini, a vegetable peeler works well enough, with less cost and hazard.
Rarely a zucchini plant will produce bitter fruit. If you want to be extra careful, taste the first shaving from each zucchini to make sure you didn’t get a bum one.
Use good olive oil. When you have few ingredients, each one has to be great.
I love Silicon Valley, former land or orchards where fresh Meyer lemons still grow in most everyone’s yard.
Dress the zucchini well with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I also recommend a little shake of crushed red pepper – not enough to make it spicy but enough to make it interesting.
Use the vegetable peeler again to shave really good Parmesan on top. Mine’s spent time in the freezer while I was in Ohio, so it’s more brittle than it would be normally.
This is a great last-minute salad, fast to assemble and ready to enjoy right away.
The salt in the dressing will make the zucchini release water if it sits for a while. So if you’re making ahead, just salt the zucchini first, then drain and dress it just before you serve.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Hope my friends in the midwest and mid-Atlantic have power back to enjoy the holiday. And if anyone needs Fourth of July cooking ideas…
Summer recipes from the archive
- Greek grilled chicken
- Mom’s barbecue chicken
- Orzo with zucchini, lemon, mint and feta
- Quinoa arugula salad
- California Greek salad
- Blueberry sour cream pie
- Blackberry cobbler
- Mascarpone cream cake with boozy berries
- Strawberry oatmeal shortcakes with maple vanilla cream
- Minty lemonade
Shaved Zucchini and Parmesan Salad
An easy, different summer salad, and a great way to use up zucchini without cooking. The humble vegetable peeler transforms common zucchini into light, delicate ribbons. Works best with small to medium zucchini.
- Zucchini (about one medium per person – shaving works better with small to medium zucchini)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Lemon (about half a lemon for every two to three zucchini)
- Crushed red pepper (optional)
- Wedge of good Parmesan cheese
- Wash zucchini and trim ends. Using vegetable peeler, shave ribbons from end to end of the zucchini. Pile into large bowl.
- Season zucchini well with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper if using. Drizzle generously with olive oil and lemon juice and toss. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Use vegetable peeler again to shave Parmesan over dressed zucchini. Serve.
- Rarely a zucchini plant will produce bitter fruit. If you want to be extra careful, taste the first shaving from each zucchini to make sure you didn’t get a bum one.
- Optional adds: lemon zest, chopped fresh herbs, olives, capers, chopped nuts.
- If making ahead, add only salt to shaved zucchini and set aside. Just before serving, drain excess liquid and proceed with the rest of the dressing ingredients (pepper, olive oil, lemon) and Parmesan.
Here’s the link to a printable version.