The sweetness of hazelnuts and creaminess of zucchini makes this salad the most luxurious summer starter.
1/3 cup [80 ml] shelled hazelnuts
7 small zucchini (about 1¾ lb [795 g])
4 tbsp [60 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp [5 ml] balsamic vinegar
1¼ cups [310 ml] mixed green and purple basil leaves
3 oz [85 g] top-quality parmigiano-reggiano, broken up or very thinly sliced
2 tsp [10 ml] hazelnut oil
Preheat the oven to 300ºF [150ºC]. Scatter the hazelnuts over a baking sheet and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let them cool down before rubbing them between your hands to remove most of the skins (some should remain). Chop the hazelnuts roughly.
Place a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and leave it there until it’s almost red-hot – at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them on an angle into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place them in a bowl and toss with half the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Place the slices in the hot grill pan and char-grill for about 2 minutes on each side; turn them over using tongs. You want to get distinct char marks without cooling the zucchini through. Transfer to a mixing bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, toss together and set aside.
Once the zucchini have cooled down, add the remaining olive oil, the basil and hazelnuts. Mix lightly, then taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Transfer the salad to a flat plate, incorporating the parmigiano-reggiano, and drizzle over the hazelnut oil.
Recipe Credit: Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi