zucchini salad with fiori di zucca, mint, and basil

August 4, 2013

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The farmer’s market is one of my favourite places to go on a Saturday morning. The sunny faces, the fresh produce, the smell of hard work and satisfaction, the chaos of kids and dogs and lazy shoppers. I love all it, but I especially love the potential of what all those local ingredients will become, and the release from decision-making and meal planning. You can go to the market, see what they have, and just prepare what you come home with. Yesterday it was baby zucchini, zucchini blossoms, basil, mint, tomatoes, and thyme. No need to over-think it – just prepare what you’ve got and thank the gods for this season’s bounty. This is a zippy, zingy salad thanks to the lemon zest, with lovely aromatic notes thanks to the fiori di zucca, or zucchini blossoms. And it’s pretty to boot which should never be underestimated; pleasing to the stomach, heart and soul.

1 generous handful fresh thyme sprigs

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

6 mixed baby zucchini, thinly shaved on a mandoline

5 or 6 small  tomatoes, quartered

6 zucchini blossoms, halved or quartered if large

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

Pinch of red-pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Coarsely ground pepper

Place thyme on a cutting board, and bruise with the dull edge of a knife. Place thyme and oil in a small saucepan. Cover, and heat over medium heat until small bubbles appear. Turn off heat, and steep thyme, covered, 20 minutes. Discard sprigs, leaving loose thyme leaves in oil. Whisk together lemon zest and juice and 2 tablespoons thyme oil.

Combine half the dressing with the zucchini, tomatoes, zucchini blossoms, basil, mint, red-pepper flakes, and salt. Season with pepper, and toss. Prepare nicely on a platter. Drizzle with remaining dressing, and sprinkle with little more basil and mint.

 

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