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I’m going to be honest here. The real title of this should be “Zucchini Carpaccio with Leeks, Mint and Lemon.” However, I knew the minute many of you read “Zucchini” you’d click to the next recipe and wouldn’t even bother reading this. ME TOO, ME TOO!! Zucchini is close to the bottom of the list when it comes to vegetables I enjoy eating and preparing. And yet, believe me when I say that this is one of the easiest, least expensive, most refreshing vegetable salads you can make and eat and enjoy. Plus – for those of you with an overabundance of zucchini sprouting in your gardens – it’s another great recipe to manage all that squash!
It’s a long, long story of how I learned to make this unlikely dish..unlikely because I am a “do it in 10 minutes no frills or fussing around” type of cook. This dish can be done in ten minutes or less, yet it requires using a mandoline to slice the zucchini really thin and then one must arrange the paper thin slices oh so carefully on a platter. Not hard, just a little more precision than I am used to. In Yiddish there is a word, Potchkey, which is hard to translate but really means “something that takes a lot of frivolous effort.” At least that is what the word means to me. And this word came to mind when I was delicately placing the thin strips of zucchini just so.
But I digress… Get yourself a couple of young fresh zucchini, a lemon, a leek, salt, pepper, good olive oil, fresh mint and get to it. And when someone asks you to bring a dish for a summer party, and you are short on time, bring this! I’ve made it three times in the past few weeks and I’m not done.
Chef Laura’s Summer Salad
- 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced on a mandolin
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, zested then juiced
- 1 leek, white part cleaned and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of fresh mint leaves (¼-⅓ cup of leaves) – slightly minced
Using a mandolin or very sharp chef’s knife, slice zucchini into very thin rounds.
Slice the leek in half lengthwise and clean out the dirt if there is any there. Dry it well. Then slice thinly.
Overlap the zucchini slices in one layer on a large platter. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Sprinkle leeks atop the zucchini and drizzle the olive oil, using a drop on each zucchini slice – hardly any. Evenly spread the lemon zest. Squeeze the lemon juice on top of the zucchini an hour before you want to serve this. Let the platter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. When ready to serve, sprinkle the mint leaves over everything and serve. Note: if you make this ahead, pop it in the fridge so the vegetables don’t wilt.
This would also be good if you make zucchini noodles or ribbons and just stir in the rest of the ingredients. Not as pretty but yummy nevertheless.