The produce at this week's Farmer's Market jaunt was no less than stellar, which always is inspiring and yields terrific recipes at Scrumptious Street. While in Italy recently, I was reminded of the perfect affinity zucchini and mint have for one another so I made a wonderful summer dish of "Zucchini & Tomato Salad with Capers and Mint in a Yogurt Dressing".
This isn't necessarily an Italian dish, but it is Mediterranean influenced. If you've never tried zucchini and mint, this is really a spectacular combination that must be tasted! Additionally, feta cheese is a beautiful supporting cast member here and lends just enough tangy creaminess to really make it special. The salad is incredibly simple and will be delicious if you follow a few guidelines. You must have very fresh produce as close to the farm or garden as possible -- these ingredients in particular, cannot be the watered-down grocery store varieties.
Zucchini is somewhat bitter when raw. However, it's quite delicate so when cooked it would be too soft and dull colored for a salad. So, I kept it raw but prepared it by dusting with salt and letting it strain. Just like eggplant, this treatment draws out the bitterness in the skin and flesh of the squash, gets the juices flowing and tenderizes the vegetable. It softens a bit without changing the color or fresh lightly-crunched structure. So, make sure to follow the steps for salting and straining in this recipe and you'll love the salad too!
Here's the recipe:
Serves 4 as small appetizer salad
4 small zucchini, washed and very thinly sliced
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 scallions, minced
1 ripe medium tomato, washed, seeded and diced
1 tsp. capers, rinsed and chopped
1/8 c. Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 oz. very good Greek feta cheese
1/4 c. fresh mint, minced, plus more for garnish
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice, separated into two parts of 2 tsp.
1 T. plain yogurt (use Greek or strain regular plain yogurt)
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1. Placed the sliced zucchini in a fine colander or fine-mesh sieve. Sprinkle with kosher salt, toss thoroughly and let stand in the sink to strain for 10 minutes, tossing every couple of minutes. After 10 minutes, rinse the zucchini thoroughly, getting off any remaining salt. Take a few paper towels and place the zucchini in the towels and gently squeeze out any remaining liquid.
2. Chop your tomato in half and scoop out the seeds with a grapefruit spoon or your fingers. Dice the tomato. In a bowl, combine the zucchini, scallions, seeded tomato, capers, parsley, feta, mint, lemon zest and 1 tsp. of the lemon juice. Toss gently to combine.
3. In a small bowl, make the dressing by combining yogurt, the remaining 1 tsp. lemon juice, white pepper and olive oil. Whisk and slowly add the olive oil, the quantity you use will depend on the thickness you want and the texture of the yogurt you used.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently. Refrigerate for 4 hours and then serve chilled.
Hope you like this refreshing, light and healthy summer salad.