Thursday, July 15, 2010
Zucchini, Fava and Goat Cheese Salad
Make this salad now with the tiny yellow zucchini squash of early summer. It is a fresh, unique way to experience a tender, precious moment of the season.
We first read of this salad in David Tanis's "a platter of figs." The only thing you really have to do is respect the tenderness of the young zucchini, cut or shave it very thin and handle it gently. After that, it is prime for a myriad of variations.
Favas or fresh peas, basil or mint, mild or slightly stronger crumbly cheeses. Young, sweet red onions, or small, mild white ones.
Fresh favas are worth the effort. Their texture, taste, smell, the brightness of their green, they are a potent and generous bean. You will probably be competing with the local chefs for the fava supply, make a deal with your vendor to at least save you a pint!
Soon the zucchini will all be large, every gardener drumming up ways to use them and people to give them too. Before the larger ones become zucchini bread and the Ratatouille of late summer, early fall, seize this tiny window, of the tiny squash.
Young Yellow Summer Squash Salad, as pictured here
4 or 7 small yellow zucchini
a handful of squash blossoms
about 1/2 cup of fava beans (cleaned, quickly blanched and skin around bean removed)
1 small new sweet red onion, sliced
sea salt and black pepper
some ricotta salata or mild feta or other crumbly goat cheese
a bit of basil or mint sliced into extremely thin ribbons (optional)
some really good olive oil
Wash and wipe the zucchini squash. Cut off the ends. Using a sharp knife, a mandoline or a vegetable peeler, shave each into thin ribbons (lengthwise) and set aside. Prep the favas by removing the beans from their pods, then blanching the beans in boiling water for a few seconds. Dunk the beans in ice water. Remove beans from their skins by pinching a tiny bit of skin off the end and gently (but firmly) squeezing the bright green fava out.
Just before serving season the zucchini with salt and pepper to taste, toss in the favas and, if using, basil and onion. Splash with olive oil and mix. squeeze in the juice from about 1/2 lemon (check for taste) and adjust seasoning to taste.
Heap onto a platter. Tear the petals of the blossoms over the salad and crumble the cheese of your choice on top. If using a harder feta, you can shave ribbons of cheese, using that handy vegetable peeler again, which looks very pretty with the ribbons of squash and blossoms.