It’s smack in the middle of zucchini season, at least here in the Northeast. They’ve been around for at least a few weeks already, but they keep on coming. If you are a member of a CSA, or shop at a farm stand or farmer’s market, or especially if you grow your own vegetables, there is a very good chance that you too are experiencing an abundance of zucchini squash right about now.
A few weeks ago during the heat wave (and the month of July was basically one long heat wave) I went to Jones Beach on a particularly hot Sunday. It’s always a quandary deciding what food to pack for a trip to the beach: nothing too hot (unappetizing), nothing too cold (will melt), but something that can hold its own under the heat of a blazing sun without losing its freshness and taste.
I decided to make a zucchini salad. What follows isn’t really a recipe per se, but rather basic instructions with many options (except one):
Chop a small onion and saute in olive oil until lightly brown (optional: skip the onion and instead add finely chopped scallion to the salad). Remove onion to a serving bowl.
Slice two zucchini crosswise into thin rounds (optional: cut lengthwise first, thus creating half-rounds) and saute in same pan in a single layer, cooking in two batches if necessary. Add more olive oil if needed. Remove slices as they become lightly browned and add to onions.
Crumble a handful of cheese into bowl (I used feta, but could be chevre).
Add a handful of chopped, toasted nuts (I used walnuts, but could be almonds, pine nuts or hazelnuts).
Add a handful of finely chopped fresh mint.*
Add a small handful of finely chopped parsley.
Sprinkle with vinegar (I used white Balsamic).
Add salt and pepper. Gently toss.
It was a satisfying andrefreshing combination of both textures and flavors: soft and crunchy and creamy and salty and nutty and earthy and acidic and minty. A perfect edible for basking under a blue, blue sky while sitting a few feet from the roaring waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
* the mint is not optional, it is what makes this dish sing.
Note: I didn’t get photos of the salad the day of the beach trip. I made it a second time last week, and took the photos above. The only problem was I had a shortage of fresh herbs (mint and parsley) that day. Ideally there is more than what appears in these pictures.