Last Friday, my husband invited some co-workers over for dinner. He likes to brag about me and my cooking which is very sweet, but it puts a bit of pressure on. Like when he says, “My wife is the best cook in Seattle”, I can’t just turn out some ho-hum meal, right? Add to that that two people flew in for the dinner (not just because of my food) and all of them love to eat and, well – let’s just say I cooked for two days.
Serving a plain green salad just didn’t seem like it was in the cards so I decided on this one from a recent Bon Appétit. It is a looker but is actually quite simple. Just thinly sliced zucchini topped with olive oil, lemon juice, ricotta and basil. It had a pretty face but I thought it was a little blah in the taste department. So, when we had some friends over for brunch on Sunday (for whom I have cooked countless times, so really no pressure) I decided to re-make it with some changes.
For more flavor pop, I added the zest of a lemon as well as more of its juice plus some minced up Kalamata olives. I left off the ricotta because I don’t think it adds much, but I would definitely crumble some ricotta salata over it next time. I also added more basil because – why not? You could use a different cheese (goat cheese would be good) and different herbs as well – thyme or tarragon would work best I think.
I don’t have one of those fancy mandolines with the adjustable blade, just a $30 ceramic one with a fixed blade. I initially started with that but half way through the first zucchini, I thought the slices were too thin. I took my time, and a sharp knife, and did the rest by hand. You can prepare the zucchini about two hours ahead of time and dress it right before you serve it.
One Year Ago: Ricotta Calzones with (Veg) Sausage and Broccoli Rabe (as soon as Randy sees this, he will ask me to make it again)
Zucchini and Olive Salad
Inspired by Bon Appétit
3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed, and sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
1 tbsp. lemon zest
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and very finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup basil, julienned
Arrange the zucchini in an overlapping pattern either on a rectangular or circular platter. Scatter the lemon zest and olives evenly over top. Carefully drizzle with olive oil (you will want a light hand here, otherwise it will get soggy), and then squeeze lemon juice over the zucchini. Sprinkle with sea salt and scatter the basil over top.