I love zucchini year round, but right now, when they’re so abundant that people are practically giving them away, is the perfect time to try zucchini in a form you probably haven’t had before. We’ve all had overcooked, mushy zucchini. Many of us have also probably fallen for the trend of spiralized zucchini noodles. I’ll come right out and say it – I don’t like them! Raw they’re too crunchy and spongy, cooked they’re too mushy…it seems like there’s just never a good in-between. Well, here it is! This shaved zucchini and arugula salad is the perfect balance for a light and refreshing summer side dish.
The zucchini are shaved on a mandoline so they’re thinner than they are coming out of a spiralizing machine. We put them in a colander and salt them to draw out excess moisture and concentrate their delicate flavor. What we end up with are zucchini ribbons that are soft and pliable with just enough texture to be considered anything but mushy. The roasted garlic and lemon vinaigrette add sweetness and tang, bringing the entire salad to life, while the arugula and toasted walnuts anchor everything and add variety in texture. We finish the dish with parmesan cheese because…well, besides adding salt, it’s parmesan cheese…why not? *yes, waiter, more cheese…I’ll tell you when to stop* We can’t let this salad get too virtuous.
This salad was made with freshly picked zucchini. I somehow talked my way into a precious plot in my parent’s vegetable garden and I chose to plant a zucchini, hoping to get tons of bang for my few square feet. Welp, I just got my first zucchini…in September!! I even took a thin paintbrush and took a little pollen from the male blossoms and – ahem, *tickled* – the female blossoms to help pollinate them. Yes, I had a good little giggle while I read the detailed instructions in Berkeley Horticulture’s June mailing. So here’s hoping this zucchini is the first of many more, even if they’re late, because I have dreams for them…namely a zucchini gruyere crostata.
- 2 zucchini (about 1 lb)
- 2 c. baby arugula
- ½ c. raw walnut halves
- ½ oz. parmesan cheese
- 1 head garlic
- 5 T. lemon juice
- 7 T. olive oil
- ½ t. oregano
- Salt and pepper
- First, make the salad dressing. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350° F. Cut the top off the head of garlic and place on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and wrap the head tightly with the foil. Cook in the oven for about an hour, until the garlic is completely softened and a little bit caramelized. Remove from oven and allow to cool to the touch.
- While the garlic is cooling spread the walnuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10-15 mins until evenly golden brown and fragrant. You may have to shake the pan halfway through to redistribute the walnuts to ensure that they cook evenly. Remove and allow to cool.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skin into a small bowl or jar. Mash slightly with a fork, then mix with all other dressing ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
- Shave the zucchini thinly lengthwise on a mandoline or using a vegetable peeler. Add to a colander and toss with a few pinches of salt. Place in the sink and allow the excess water to drain out of the zucchini for about 15 minutes.
- Chop the walnuts as finely as you like and grate or shave the parmesan.
- To assemble the salad add all ingredient to a bowl and toss with a few spoonfuls of the dressing. Eat as soon as possible.
- Try to pick small, firm zucchini. The larger zucchinis get, the more seeds they’ll have and the more spongy their texture will be.
- This recipe will make more dressing than you need, but it’s almost identical to the dressing I use on my achiote chicken salad, so hop on over there if you’re looking for another use. Although, it’s so delicious I doubt you’ll have any trouble trying to use it up.