All kids, even the good eaters, have at least one vegetable that that they cannot stand.
Mine was zucchini. Just looking at their smooth, green skin made my stomach churn. When my mom put ratatouille on the menu, I spent the whole day steeling myself for dinner. Fortunately, most--though not all--kids outgrow their food fears. While there are several vegetables that I prefer to zucchini, I have grown to appreciate the vegetable, especially when it's grilled, pickled, or otherwise changed in some fundamental way.
And that's the thing with zucchini. While some summer vegetables are at their best when handled minimally, zucchini can take a pummeling.
Try this: Slice the zucchini thinly lengthwise, sprinkle it with salt, and let it leach out its water for 30 minutes. After it's wilted and looks downright soggy, ring it out with force and then mix it with mint, green olives, plenty of lemon juice, and an equal measure of good olive oil. It's great.
In this salad, I play with textures by pairing grilled zucchini with pickled zucchini, which has the texture a lot like the salted zucchini, with the vinegar from the quick pickle helping to balance the flavors.
Grilled and Pickled Zucchini Salad
- 1 pound zucchini, halved lengthwise
- 1 pound fresh peas
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup quick-pickled zucchini, drained, pickling liquid reserved (see below)
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
- 1/8 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill
- 1/8 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 generous squeeze of lemon
Preheat a grill. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper and then coat with olive oil. Grill the zucchini over moderate heat until lightly charred on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Slice the zucchini crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
Shuck the peas. In a pot of boiling, salted water, blanch the peas until they float to the surface. Shock the peas in an ice bath, then drain.
In a bowl, combine the grilled zucchini and peas with the pickled zucchini. Add enough olive oil and pickling liquid to give the salad a pleasant sharpness, and then mix in the herbs. Pour the salad onto a serving platter or bowl.
Mix the yogurt with enough lemon juice for it to be pleasantly tangy. Season with a pinch of salt and drizzle over the top of the salad.
Quick Zucchini Pickles
Makes about 4 cups
- 1 pound zucchini
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup white or red wine vinegar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/8 cup sugar, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Slice the zucchini crosswise into thin rounds. Mix the zucchini with salt, transfer to a colander, and let the zucchini drainfor a half hour. Pat dry and pack into a quart jar.
In a pot, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, curry powder, and paprika to a boil. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute, then pour over the zucchini and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours before using.