Not Just a Pretty Face

April 20, 2010

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
Serves 4

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
Olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup basil, julienned
Sea salt

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.


  1. Your guests are very lucky. The salad is gorgeous. Love the changes you made.

    Comment by Maria — April 20, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  2. ha! yes i know what you mean, my hubby does the same thing–i love it/i hate it. pressure is on.
    that first photo is gorgeous.

    Comment by vanillasugar — April 20, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

  3. This is a gorgeous salad. Especially for during those months of August when we feel like we are going to be suffocated by all of the zucchini that hits the markets. I love your updated toppings. I bet some feta would be great on top as well. Give it that whole Mediterranean. Thang.

    Comment by Joanne — April 20, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

  4. This salad looks fabulous! Perfect for these warmer months. I’m sure your husband’s friends loved it! :)

    Comment by Nirvana — April 20, 2010 @ 11:24 pm

  5. So cute, “best cook in Seattle”. I love it.
    I find zucchini to be one of the most tasteless, bland vegetables. I like to grill it or roast it for flavor.
    Glad you spruced it up! Looks pretty, like you!

    Comment by stacey snacks — April 21, 2010 @ 12:46 am

  6. Gorgeous salad! Nice presentation!

    Comment by Cherine — April 21, 2010 @ 6:25 am

  7. This is such a beautiful looking salad! I’m trying to like things I think I hate and zucchini is on my list. This salad could change that.

    Comment by kickpleat — April 21, 2010 @ 8:56 am

  8. My dear husband does the same thing, Dana, and my heart swells just before it starts pitter-pattering thinking of what I should make to keep up the reputation.

    This looks like a real keeper. Zucchini is not at its prime here in the midwest yet. Come August, as Joanne remarks above, we will all be knee deep in it and fresh basil will be ripe for the picking on my deck- this salad will make it to our table. A loaf of toasty bread is all I would need to make it a meal in itself.

    Comment by Penny — April 21, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  9. The olives and lemon zest sound like great additions. Such a pretty salad too!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — April 21, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  10. bookmarking this NOW and making it soon! I love zucchini but am always looking for unique ways to eat it. Can’t wait to try this!! :)

    Comment by Natalie (The Sweets Life) — April 21, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  11. That looks so refreshing and healthy! YuM!

    Comment by Sook — April 22, 2010 @ 5:16 am

  12. it really does look lovely! and, I agree that ricotta salata would be great on it too!

    Comment by elizabeth (sophisticated pie) — April 22, 2010 @ 11:09 am

  13. Thank you Dana, so easy, so good, I did add the feta. My husband thought it was cucumbers, what a nice surprise. You made me look like a Gourmet cook.

    Comment by Sharon — April 23, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

  14. I love the presentation of this salad!

    Comment by Ashley — April 27, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

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