August is arguably the most fruitful time of the year when it comes to produce. Gardens have matured, and markets overflow with fresh fruits and vegetables. Such abundance is great, but it can also be difficult to figure out what to do with excess produce, especially varieties that don’t freeze too well. I’m looking at you, zucchini! Zucchini plants are especially productive, so over the years, I’ve gathered a handful of recipes that use healthy quantities of squashes so we can get through our stashes quickly.
This Hazelnut, Parmesan, and Grilled Zucchini Salad is one of my family’s long-time favorites. Two things make this dish especially great. First, it’s super quick to make. You basically grill the zucchini for mere minutes, toss it with seasonings, and you’re done. Second, it showcases zucchini in its best possible form. Zucchini gets a bad rap for becoming soft, even mushy, in the blink of an eye, so it’s super important to cook it minimally. In this recipe, the thick zucchini slices are simply seared on both sides, which provides flavor (and fab-looking grill marks!) while maintaining a toothsome texture.
The combination of crunchy hazelnuts, fresh basil, and salty Parmigiano-Reggiano creates a truly impressive salad. While the hazelnut oil is optional, it’s a luxurious finishing touch that delightfully underlines the salad’s flavors. Serve it as an appetizer or with grilled chicken or salmon.
Makes 4 servings.
This elegant but easy Hazelnut, Parmesan, and Grilled Zucchini Salad combines crunchy, creamy, and salty to deliciously highlight fresh summer squash.
20 minPrep Time
5 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
Preheat the barbecue at high heat, or place a grill pan over high heat and leave it there until it’s super-hot, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them on an angle into 1/4-inch-thick (0.6-cm) slices. Place them in a large mixing bowl and toss with half the olive oil, 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) sea salt flakes, and some black pepper. Transfer the slices to the barbecue or grill pan and char-grill for 1 to 2 minutes on each side; turn them over using kitchen tongs and grill the flip side for 1 minute more. If some slices are smaller than the others, keep a close eye on them and make sure to turn and remove them from the heat before the larger slices. You want to get distinct char marks without cooking the zucchini through. Transfer the grilled zucchini back to the mixing bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, toss together and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Toss the zucchini with the basil leaves, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and hazelnut (or extra-virgin olive) oil. Toss gently. Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with additional sea salt flakes and black pepper, and serve immediately.
NOTE: How to Toast and Peel Hazelnuts
Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 15 minutes, shaking the tray every five minutes. When the hazelnuts’ skin is shiny and crackled, remove from the oven and transfer to a clean dish towel. Close the towel up into a bundle and rub the hazelnuts against one another vigorously to remove the skin. Open the towel and pick up the peeled hazelnuts. Some bits of skin will remain but that’s ok! Keep the peeled hazelnuts in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com
Adapted from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi