Thursday, May 9, 2013
Zucchini & Hazelnut Salad: Another Yotam Ottolenghi Salad Winner!
I was firmly convinced that Tyler Florence's Carpaccio of Raw Zucchini was my favorite way to eat zucchini until I tried Ottolenghi's Zucchini & Hazelnut Salad. It is a wonderful combination of roasted zucchini, basil, Parmesan cheese and toasted hazelnuts that I would find easy to enjoy often. It also begs the question, "Why don't I put toasted hazelnuts in my salads more?!" (Especially since I have a bag full in my freezer!) Lucky we can get good locally-grown zucchini most of the year here in Hawaii but, if it isn't quite zucchini season where you live, bookmark this simple, pretty and flavorful salad for when you need to use up that glut of green squash that happens each year. It's worth it!
Ottolenghi calls this salad "...the most luxurious summer starter."
Zucchini & Hazelnut Salad
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
1/3 cup shelled hazelnuts
7 small zucchini (about 1 3/4 lbs in total)
4 tbsp olive oil (I cut down to about 2 Tbsp total)
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 cups mixed green & purple basil leaves (I used sweet & Thai Basil & purple shiso)
3 oz top-quality Parmesan, broken up, very thinly-sliced or shaved
2 tsp hazelnut oil (I used walnut oil)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Scatter the hazelnuts over a baking sheet and roast 12-15 minutes or until nicely browned and toasted. Let them cool down (remove skins if needed) before chopping roughly or just crushing lightly with the side of a large knife.
Place a ridged grill pan on high heat and leave it there until it is almost red hot--at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the ends off of zucchini and cut on an angle into about 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place zucchini slices in a bowl and toss with half the olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place the slices on the hot grill pan and cook about 2 minutes on each side, turning them over using tongs. You want to get distinct char marks without cooking the zucchini through. Transfer to a mixing bowl, drizzle balsamic vinegar over and toss to combine. Set aside to cool slightly.
Once zucchini has cooled down, add the remaining olive oil, basil and hazelnuts. Mix lightly and taste for seasoning. Place salad on plates, incorporating the Parmesan, and drizzle over the hazelnut oil.
Notes/Results: This salad is excellent--simple but elegant and great flavor. The taste of grilled zucchini is enhanced by the basil and the nutty combination of the roasted hazelnuts and Parmesan. The recipe called for green and purple basil but I have not yet replaced my purple basil plant and couldn't find any. I used a mixture of sweet and Thai basil and for a pop of color, I tossed in some dark purple shiso (aka perilla or beefsteak). I didn't have hazelnut oil and didn't really want to buy a bottle, so I used walnut oil as my drizzle. I like that there is just enough balsamic to give flavor but not overpower the rest of the ingredients--I am not fond of salads where all you taste is the balsamic vinegar. I ate a big plate of this salad as a light dinner, along with some toasted garlic bread slices. Another winning Ottolenghi salad! Great for a warm, humid night, I will make it again.
This week's IHCC theme is "A Squash is a Squash, Of Course, Of Course..." You can check out the squashy Ottolenghi dishes everyone made this week by checking out the links on the post.