baby zucchini salad

We'd been occasionally grabbing these baby zucchini that began showing up in the local farmer's  market, the next step nature takes after producing those prized fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers) that we value so much, but we didn't have any special recipe to use them in. Until discovering Marcella's baby zucchini salad when we needed multiple vegetarian side dishes for a dinner with friends, which immediately got our attention since we love fresh mint.. She suggests using "young, small but not miniature zucchini with tiny seeds" but this prohibition is a bit ambiguous: what are miniature zucchini anyway, while young and small implies baby, no?

The result turned out to be delightful and we have made it several times since.

ingredients

1/2 lb small, very fresh zucchini: a standard package of about 6 baby zucchinis are just right
1 celery stalk
1/2 c ripe, fresh tomatoes, seeds scooped out, cut into small dice (halved grape tomatoes also work here)
1 T chopped fresh mint leaves
1 garlic clove, pressed
salt
1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed juice of
2 T extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

instructions

  1. Clean and cut the baby zucchinis to half their length and then slice thinly. Marcella suggests using a vegetable peeler to get really thin julienne style strips, but we went with simple thicker knife slices.
  2. Wash the celery stalk and slice cross-wise into 1/8–1/4 in slices (we like thinner, she likes thicker).
  3. Clean and dice the tomato (halve the grape tomatoes, third some big ones), wash and chop the mint and toss everything into the salad bowl.
  4. Add the salt and pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and toss thoroughly, then cover and refrigerate an hour before serving.
  5. If you like, garnish the bowl with a sprig of mint leaves when served.

notes

  1. Marcella Hazan, Marcella Cucina, Raw Zucchini Salad with Mint and Tomato Dice, p.190 (listed in the index under "salads," but not under "zucchini"). She suggests 2 smashed garlic cloves in cheesecloth that are removed before serving. We like garlic so no need to hassle with cheesecloth, which we don't have anyway. The first time we made this we had to omit the garlic for one of our guests who practices active garlic avoidance.
  2. Illustrations available.
bzuchsld.htm: 26-jan-2006 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]