Friday, July 31, 2015

Quick Salad Supper for a Warm Night: Zucchini & Tomato Salad with Mozzarella & Cilantro

Hot, humid days make me grumpy--even though compared with much of the country right now, we don't have it that bad here. Still, this weather makes me want to eat lighter and stay out of the kitchen as much as possible. This simple salad from Jacques Pépin is a great recipe for a hot night--it goes together quickly, tastes great, isn't heavy, and it makes the most of summer ingredients.  

This recipe is pretty perfect as written so I pretty much left it alone. Since I had a few local sweet grape tomatoes hanging about, I sliced them and added them to the mix. The baby zucchini and cilantro are local and organic, and the tomato was from The Big Island, so everything was fresh and lovely. 

Zucchini and Tomato Salad 
Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pépin 
(Serves 4)

Jacques says, “For this recipe, I salt long, thin slices of zucchini and serve them raw. The salt flavors the zucchini and draws out its moisture, giving it a deliciously crunchy texture. Sometimes I serve the zucchini on its own with just a dash of olive oil, but it’s also wonderful with this tomato, mozzarella, and cilantro salad, which can be served on its own."

2 small, firm zucchini (each about 5 oz)
1 tsp salt
2 cups diced (3/4-inch) tomatoes
2/3 cup diced (1/2-inch) mozzarella cheese, preferably buffalo mozzarella
about 1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
(I added sliced grape tomatoes)  

Using a vegetable peeler, cut down the length of each zucchini to remove long, thin strips. Stop when you reach the seeds in the center, pivot the zucchini, and repeat on the other 3 sides.  Discard the seedy centers and put the zucchini strips in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper.

In another bowl, mix together the tomatoes, mozzarella, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper.

At serving time, arrange the zucchini strips on four plates to create a border around the edge. Spoon some of the tomato salad into the center of each plate and serve immediately.

{Jacques Cooking Note: Both the zucchini and the tomato salad can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead of serving; if done any further ahead, they both tend to get mushy.

Notes/Results: So very simple, so very good. Since the salad is so simple, it needs great ingredients to be allowed to shine. Get fresh, local, and ripe produce, use your best olive oil and the freshest mozzarella you can. Don't skimp, it will be worth it. If you are not a cilantro fan, you could add another herb instead--basil, oregano, or tarragon would all be lovely, but the cilantro really adds a nice pop of flavor to the dish. I liked the contrast of the beefsteak tomato--fruity and almost meaty, with the sweetness of the grape tomatoes so I was happy I added them. I made a half-batch of the salad and loaded it onto a plate and ate it with slices from an olive loaf for my dinner. It was perfectly satisfying and the bread was good to sop up the juices from the tomato salad mixture and its briny flavor paired nicely with the other ingredients. I will definitely make this again.  

This post is linking up to Potluck Week at I Heart Cooking Clubs--our chance to make any Jacques Pépin recipe, or any recipe from a previous IHCC chef. You can see what recipes and which chefs that everyone cooked from by checking out the picture links on the post.  



  1. gosh I hope the trades come back soon! this salad looks perfect :)

  2. I am with you totally for using the freshest, local and ripe ingredients. We don't need to do much given all the natural goodness. I can finish the whole plate of this.

  3. What a healthy, delicious and refreshing salad Deb! I love mozzarella cheese and think it goes great in any salad! YUM!
    I am glad we were connected through the July Potluck IHCC challenge too!


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