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Hungry Heart: Scary Beautiful Squash

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Scary Beautiful Squash

You can make bread or muffins. Or fry it. You can toss it on the grill. And then make more bread. And if you are anything like me in the summer, you'll still end up with leftover zucchini.
If you have a plethora of squash in your garden, my recommendation is to pick it while it is still relatively small. Try not to let it get much more then 2-3 inches in diameter. If you let it grow too big, it will be watery and full of seeds. The skin will be like leather. I know there is nothing more impressive than a zucchini the size of your leg, but trust me, they taste better when they are small.

Here is a no-cooking-required, beautiful way to eat zucchini.

Shaved Zucchini Salad
(adapted from Bon Appetite)
  • 2 lbs medium zucchini or summer squash, trimmed
  • 2 large radishes, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • 3 Tbls lemon juice
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
The only downfall of this recipe is that it employs the scariest kitchen tool I own. A mandolin (did a dramatic Dun Dun Dun! sound effect just play in your head? Yeah, mine too).


This contraption makes my skin crawl. The blade is very sharp. How could I possibly have any fingertips left if I used this thing?! It has a hand guard (pictured on the left) but it is very difficult to use.
(If you have never used a mandolin before, check out the instructional video on Amazon, featuring Mario Batali using this particular OXO model).

I registered for a mandolin when I got married, because I know how efficient it is at making slices and juliennes. How else were we going to make french fries for the deep fryer that Jerry insisted on registering for?
This kitchen utensil is so intimidating that I rarely use it. I leave the slicing up to Jerry. I have to leave the room when he runs the vegetables over it. I wait anxiously as he slices, trying not to picture bloody fingertips while calculating the fastest way to the emergency room in my head.
The only time I have ever watched him use it was while taking these pictures. It was not easy. I got chills editing these photos.
If you were smart, you would just use a vegetable peeler on the zucchini. But where is the excitement in that?

I set it to make 1/16 inch slices
Look how close his finger is!
It made beautiful ribbons of squash.
Jerry sliced the zucchini, squash (from a co-worker's garden), and a few radishes. I whisked together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I cut way back on the olive oil in the original recipe, and added extra lemon juice. Toss everything gently in a big bowl, being careful not to rip the squash. Then add basil, cheese, and pumpkin seeds.
This was both beautiful and delicious. It was light and peppery, and made a great summer side dish. Jerry was skeptical of a raw squash salad, but he ended up enjoying it with a little extra cheese.

Maybe someday I will have the nerve to use the mandolin, all by myself. I did make one slice of zucchini while making this salad. And I still have all my fingers. In my mind, that is a victory.

2 Comments:

At August 4, 2011 at 10:43 AM , Blogger LaurenMcC said...

I am so making this tonight! I will just have to suck it up and use the mandolin unsupervised.

 
At August 4, 2011 at 8:29 PM , Blogger EHHMom said...

I may have to take credit for your mandolin phobia, how many times have you seen me shave a fingernail and tip of a finger? hate the guard!
I made a shaved zucchini/yellow squash salad but I love the addition of pumpkin seed and radish..but I am using a peeler or your sous chef!

 

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