Although Julia Child was absolutely a staple in my childhood years, maybe around the time of high school, Ottolenghi came into our kitchen and really planted his feet. The flavors of his recipes and the balance he creates in each dish is so spectacular that when I wanted a crisp zucchini salad, I knew he would have something great.
This recipe is very similar to Ottolenghi's original recipe. A major difference here is that I keep the lemon zest and garlic cloves from the oil being infused with flavors. I liked the idea of a chicharon, but making it out of the lemon skin rather than pork. I also was curious to keep the garlic chips in the oil after having made Bryant Terry's garlic oil where he didn't let these beautiful chips go to waste and they added a really delightful crunch.
Admittedly, I would have liked to use more of my summer squash, but when I cut into it, it was super woody, so I ended up using a vegetable peeler and just shaving off the outer-most layer to at least add a little color to the dish.
With the hot and humid summer days lately, this salad is perfect for a light summer dinner.
2 zucchinis, sliced thinly lengthwise on a mandoline
1 yellow summer squash, sliced thinly on a mandoline (optional)
70g walnuts, toasted
2 tbsp olive oil
15g fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
3 sprigs thyme
Heat the olive oil on medium-low in a small pot. Use a vegetable peeler to get the very top layer of the lemon and toss it in to the oil. Add the garlic slices, and let the mixture infuse the olive oil. You're aiming to make crispy golden brown garlic chips and a chicharon, or crispy skin, from the lemon zest - give it some time.
Toast the walnuts until golden brown and then give them a rough chop. I like to turn the oven onto 180°C fan-forced (400°F) and place them on a quarter-sheet tray, but this is a perfect use for a small toaster oven.
Once the oil is infused and the garlic and lemon peel are starting to turn crisp, add in the thyme and let infuse for a minute or two more, but don't let the garlic burn. Then let the mixture cool off.
Thinly slice the zucchinis and summer squash into a large bowl. I like to use a mandoline set to 1.3 mm thickness, but this is really a preference. You could use a knife or a vegetable peeler as well. Roughly chop the basil and toss-in to the zucchini.
Once the lemon peel is cool enough to touch, give it a fine chop and toss in with the zucchini slices. Remove the thyme from the oil mixture. Pour the oil and garlic chips into the bowl with the zucchini. Then squeeze in the whole lemon into the bowl, and add the toasted walnuts. Season with salt.
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- Julia Feld