Thursday, June 20, 2013

An Easy, Elegant, Tasty Summer Salad: Thanks, Ottolenghi!

I purged my cookbook collection when we moved three times in a year and a half.  After each move, there were more cookbooks that I realized I hadn't touched in years.  They were pretty to look at, but they just took up space and were too heavy to move.  My standards for buying cookbooks these days are very high, especially since you can get so many of the recipes for free online.

That said, I love the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Tonight I made the zucchini and hazelnut salad and it was a great summer dish.  Simple and elegant.  It went well with a grilled chicken and pasta salad.  And like a lot of Ottolenghi's dishes, it's also beautiful.

Read on for the recipe, shortcuts and more photos.

I highly recommend the summer salad for its unique mix of flavors.  I didn't have the hazelnut oil and I just toasted the hazelnuts in the microwave, but otherwise I used the same ingredients.  I'm not a big measurer when it comes to things like salads, so I eyeballed the parts.

Yotam Ottolenghi's Zucchini and Hazelnut Salad
Serves 4

1/3 cup shelled hazelnuts
3 or 4 of the long kind of zucchini (about 1¾ lb)
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (I just glug a bunch over a bowl filled with the zucchini slices)
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1¼ cups [310 ml] mixed green and purple basil leaves (I used thai basil from my herb garden)
3 oz Reggiano parmesan , broken up or very thinly sliced
2 tsp  hazelnut oil

In terms of the directions, I toasted my hazelnuts in the microwave and I grilled the zucchini on a gas grill and then tossed everything together.

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Scatter the hazelnuts over a baking sheet and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let them cool down before rubbing them between your hands to remove most of the skins (some should remain). Chop the hazelnuts roughly.
Place a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and leave it there until it’s almost red-hot – at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them on an angle into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place them in a bowl and toss with half the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Place the slices in the hot grill pan and char-grill for about 2 minutes on each side; turn them over using tongs. You want to get distinct char marks without cooling the zucchini through. Transfer to a mixing bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, toss together and set aside.
Once the zucchini have cooled down, add the remaining olive oil, the basil and hazelnuts. Mix lightly, then taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Transfer the salad to a flat plate, incorporating the parmigiano-reggiano, and drizzle over the hazelnut oil.

Recipe Credit: Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi

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