So. This is my first ever blog post, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intimidated. Probably because I’ve been telling everyone and their dog for the past six months that, “I’m going to start a food blog! It’s going to be awesome! Food! Blog! Awesome!” Well, it turns out that telling lots of people is an excellent way to scare the crap out of yourself and if you’re a perfectionist like me, it can make it almost impossible to take action. But enough is enough, it’s time to get cracking, because zucchini season is nearing its end and you NEED to experience this salad, the sooner the better. Perfectionism be damned, I’m sharing this recipe!
This salad is fitting as my first public recipe for a couple reasons. Firstly, while I am not a vegetarian, fresh vegetables make up the bulk of my diet, for the most part. And I love salad. I’m crazy about salad… I’m not talking about a little frissé salad with some sort of dressing either. I’m talking about a serious, meaty salad, something that will stick, that you can eat as your whole meal if you want, but something that will leave you very satisfied. This salad is just that. It is fresh, delicious, a little surprising, and I have made a couple different variations about 7 times over the past two months. It would not be inaccurate to say that I’m a little bit obsessed.
Secondly, I love it because, in my humble view, it’s original. If you want a salad using relatively simple, easy to find, seasonal ingredients, this is it, and it will totally impress your friends if you feel like showing off a little. While spiralized zucchini noodles have been having a moment, an extended moment really, this recipe’s primary ingredient is also raw zucchini, but peeled, not spiralized, with a run of the mill vegetable peeler, something you likely already have in your kitchen, that doesn’t cost a lot of money or take up any room (unlike a spiralizer). It is easy and accessible to everyone and doesn’t require that you go and buy any new gear. Yay!
So, while summer is nearing it’s end, or if where you live it is already long gone (like here in Belgium), I highly recommend this salad, either to prolong that summery feeling, or to pretend (I have been known to wear shorts around the house during winter, for nostalgia’s sake). It is chalk full of water, fibre and good fats, and will make you so happy!
- 1 small red chili pepper
- Juice and zest of one lime
- Olive oil
- 3 medium zucchinis, preferably in a variety of colours (yellow, light green, dark green), for aesthetic reasons
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 bunch fresh basil- I used purple basil in this recipe
- 1/3-1/2 (depending on how “meaty” you want the salad to be) cashews or pecans (other nuts would also be delicious but I’ve so far only done it with these ones).
- Fresh ginger (optional, but delicious)
- Good quality salt, like Pink Himalayan Salt, and pepper.
Stuff you’ll need:
- Sharp kitchen knife
- A decent vegetable peeler (preferably one that doesn’t make your eyes bleed because it barely works. If the only peeler you have makes your eyes bleed, invest in one, it is really one of the cheapest and most necessary pieces of kitchen equipment).
- A big salad bowl- Make sure it’s the biggest one you have- it’s very difficult to toss a salad properly when there is no extra room.
- A medium sized frying pan
- A cheese grater
First thing’s first. Heat the pan on medium heat and roughly chop your pecans/cashews. Throw them in the pan and let them toast for a couple minutes, tossing occasionally.
While they’re toasting, try and multitask, and pour about 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil in the salad bowl. Squeeze/roll your lime with your fist to soften it, cut it in half and squeeze all the juice into the bowl. And don’t forget about your nuts! Now is probably a good time to take them off the heat.
Next, cut your red chili pepper. Slice it down the middle, de-seed it, and chop it up as finely as you can. Add it to the lime/olive oil, along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. It’s important to let the pepper infuse in the olive oil and lime juice for a while.
Now, make sure you’ve washed and dried your zucchinis and herbs, and start peeling them lengthwise directly into the bowl. The goal is to make something that resembles pappardelle noodles, but it will inevitably be imperfect. That is fine and it will be beautiful. Peel as much as you can of each zucchini, and preserve the rest for another cooking adventure.
Now roughly chop your herbs and throw them in. When in doubt, more is better. Preserve a small bunch of herbs for garnish, and throw it all in, along with the nuts and chopped avocado. Toss your salad fully, making sure that the zucchini is evenly covered with vinaigrette.
Sprinkle the rest of the herbs on top for garnish, and if you’re feeling fancy (which I recommend you be), grate the lime zest on top, followed by as much ginger as your heart desires. The ginger will not only make it look beautiful, but it will really make it explode in your mouth.
I hope you love this as much as I do. Let me know how it turned out!