Even if I didn’t love zucchini everything, I would grow them just for the spectacular blooms.
The first time Ralph and I were in Rome I saw flats of sunshine yellow over-sized flower blossoms for sale at a giant vegetable market. My Italian wasn’t good enough for me to even attempt a conversation with the vendors so I was left puzzling over their use. Fortunately, the same evening I spotted fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta on the menu of the pizzeria where we were dining. The thing with Italy is even the pizzerias are worthy of the word ‘dining’. It was a trendy upscale neighborhood eatery specializing in pizza and all things local. They were celebrating the height of the zucchini season by stuffing the delicate blossoms with house made bufala di ricotta. We were a little tentative – we don’t like flowery tasting things so I wasn’t sure if we’d enjoy stuffed flowers – so we ordered one plate to share. Three plates later…
The wonderful thing about zucchini is it’s versatility. The blossoms or the vegetable; raw or cooked, is a fun vegetable to be creative with. Today is a heavy gardening day so I wanted a quick yummy lunch just for me. As I was weeding the vegetable garden, I grabbed a couple of tiny zucchini, some fresh spinach and a handful each of wild mint and raspberries. Add to that some toasted hazelnuts, shards of reggiano parmigiano and a simple vinaigrette and voila – lunch is ready.
I know you’re saying, ‘where are the stuffed deep fried zucchini?’ I had full intentions of giving you a stuffed blossom recipe but I’m out of ricotta! I promise to get on it later this week but until then give this salad a go. It’s lovely…
I gotta say, I LOVE OUR FARM! Okay, sorry about that – just a little unbridled gratitude.
Zucchini Wild Mint and Toasted Hazelnut Salad with Raspberries
2 tablespoons shelled hazelnuts
1 small zucchini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
A few torn mint leaves
1 oz parmigiano-reggiano, shards
¼ cup fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
Scatter the hazelnuts over a baking sheet and roast for 12 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Let them cool down before rubbing them between your hands to remove most of the skins.
Chop the hazelnuts roughly.
Meanwhile, trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them on an angle into 3/8-inch-thick slices.
Place them in a bowl with the spinach leaves and toss with the olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper.
Place on serving plate then sprinkle with remaining ingredients.
THE LOVE: This salad relies on the freshest ingredients possible…You can rarely go wrong when you’re making a salad if you use fruit and veggies that are in season at the same time. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing!
one year ago: prosecco lime and ginger mignonette
two years ago: vegetable antipasti
Thanks for reading.