August 18, 2022
Inspiration comes from many places_ nostalgic memories, a flavor I am trying to chase, an exciting new ingredient, an old magazine clipping or, quite simply, from dining out.
Last week, with some co-workers, I ventured out to Coltivare, a cozy neighborhood restaurant, and garden in the Heights. After ordering a couple of appetizers, the ever-popular pizzas, and spreads, the first thing that arrived on our table was a zucchini and cucumber carpaccio. We had not ordered it, but Ryan Pera, Coltivare’s chef, and co-owner was in the kitchen and glanced over at our table with a smile.
With most farm stands currently in full-blown zucchini harvest mode, I felt I had run the gamut of tasting zucchini dishes. I was wrong. This one blew me away.
Crisp, chilled, thinly sliced zucchini and cucumbers spread on a plate, topped with aromatic herbs, toasted walnuts, tiny chunks of aged cheese, and a simple vinaigrette. I can see why Ryan wanted us to taste that salad. We had a wonderful meal that night, but I couldn’t wait to re-create a version of that salad — and here it is. I swapped out the cheese for tiny bites of freshly minced ginger, but feel free to use your favorite aged cheese instead.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
Juice of two lemons
½ teaspoon salt
1 small serrano pepper, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 medium zucchini squash, chilled
1 medium yellow squash, chilled
2 medium Persian cucumbers, chilled
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
A few basil leaves
Makes 4 servings
To make the dressing_ In a small frying pan over high heat, warm the olive oil and pop the mustard seeds. Immediately, turn the heat off and let the oil cool down for a few minutes. Stir in the juice of 2 lemons, salt, serrano, ginger and maple syrup. The dressing can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.
Remove the ends and thinly slice both the squashes and cucumber. Arrange them on a large plate or on four salad plates. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top. Spoon the dressing over the vegetables and tear basil leaves and spread over the top. Serve immediately.
Pick small zucchini or yellow squash, they are slightly more tender and have fewer seeds.
Crumble goat or your favorite aged cheese over the salad.
Substitute sliced garlic cloves instead of ginger.
December 02, 2022