Today, I was leafing through old photos of a trip my husband (then boyfriend) and I took to Mexico back in 2003. I remember having to justify the concept of a “beach holiday” to my fair-skinned Irishman, who couldn’t grasp the point of lying around, (literally) cooking under a devilish sun that was hotter than holy hell. All day. Everyday. For seven days straight. Looking back, I can’t blame his skepticism. As my skin became increasingly bronzed, his only knew to become frecklier. The constant heat exhaustion probably didn’t help either.
He did eventually find solace though. As I take a closer look at the photos, I see the usual sunset shots, ocean shots, and finally….ceviche shots? Why the disproportionate number of photos of ceviche? Well, we ate ceviche at nearly every meal. No, that’s a lie. At every meal. Ceviche –and icy cervezas, saved him from the heat and I’m guessing, at the time, he felt it important to duly document his Mexican heroes.
This raw zucchini crudo pays homage to those refreshing bites of summertime relief and has officially taken over the coveted title of Top Salad in our house. Some nights, my bones are laaaa-zzzy and the thought of washing and spinning greens, in addition to whipping up yet another vinaigrette of some sort, quickly turns daunting. And, to be honest, I get bored with the look-n-feel of your typical salad architecture and construction. Zucchini crudo has a refreshingly new, updated floor plan, great curb appeal and is a cinch to build. We moved in straight away and have been living deliciously since. Like ceviche, the uber-simple citrus marinade does all the heavy lifting for you while it rests happily in the fridge. It cures the zucchini and leaves behind a lovely chorus of infused sunny flavors and a toothsome crunch. Zucchini season is here and my favorite way to enjoy them is RAW, RAW, RAW. Why muck up something Mother Nature has prepared so perfectly?
Go out and eat too many. Savor each bite. Work on your tan (or your freckles). I plan to do so for as long as Summer lets me.
RAW ZUCCHINI CRUDO
Inspired by Tyler Florence
Feel free to change up and play around with your choice of cheese and herbs. Dollops of fresh ricotta with chervil and dill would be brilliant together. I picked the herbs below since they’re growing like mad in our garden right now. Plus, when fresh feta comes knocking at our door, mint is never too far behind. Oh, and speaking of fresh feta: French sheep’s milk feta is the way to go. It’s so much creamier and a bit more mild than Greek or goat’s milk feta.
Music Pairing: Beach Boys, All Summer Long
- 1 medium farm stand zucchini
- 1-2 tsp good extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small lemon, juiced
- freshly ground black pepper
- kosher salt
- 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
- fresh feta cheese, crumbled
- handful of fresh mint, parsley and chives, finely minced
Slice zucchini into rounds as thin as you can get them with a mandolin, or slowly and carefully with a sharp knife. Arrange on a large plate in shingle formation, overlapping zucchini rounds in one layer. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with good olive oil and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
A few minutes before removing zucchini crudo from refrigerator, soak red onion slices in remaining lemon juice. Remove chilled zucchini crudo and top with red onions, crumbled feta and herbs. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.