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If you thought that zucchini was just for making a delicious zucchini bread for the crew, have I got a surprise for you! Few people know that zucchini is delicious raw. Most are surprised by its fresh green flavor and a soft, delicate texture that’s simply delightful! The zucchini carpaccio I’m about to share is not only a piece of cake to whip up, but it’s also healthy and scrumptious! Yum!
Zucchini, like tomatoes, is often considered a vegetable, but is botanically classified as a berry (CRAZY, HUH?). Zucchini has many nutrition benefits including it is low in calories, high in vitamin A, a good source of vitamin C and a variety of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. It is rich in water and fiber, which promote healthy digestion.
Carpaccio is typically a dish of meat or fish thinly sliced or pounded thin, served raw and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. Zucchini carpaccio is a traditional Italian dish where the same technique is applied.
Look for smaller young and very fresh zucchini; they will have fewer seeds. If you want to brighten the appearance of the dish, mix in some yellow squash for color.
Lemon juice: fresh squeezed, not the bottled stuff per favore!
Olive oil: use your best. I personally keep only one kind on hand, Partanna Sicilan Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It’s extremely versatile.
Cheese: I like the creaminess of feta, but Parmesan shavings would be more traditional in Italy.
Pine nuts: you can use them raw but it’s worth taking the time to dry roast them in a pan, because it adds a ton of flavor.
I like to add a touch of red color with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper (milder than red chili pepper flakes) or Sumac (for a citrusy flavor). Pink peppercorns are nice too, or simply black pepper.
You can add a garnish of fresh herbs to your liking (basil or parsley) but don’t make the mistake of adding too many layers of flavor. This dish is meant to highlight a few simple fresh ingredients.
How to make zucchini carpaccio:
The best way to slice thin is using a vegetable peeler. If zucchini is young you should be able to slice right through the seed cavity. Otherwise, slice around the core until you reach the seed cavity and discard.
Place in a colander, sprinkling a pinch of salt between layers and a final pinch on top. Toss lightly. Let sit in the colander for 30 minutes over a plate or sink to collect the juices.
Once they have softened, gently squeeze with your hands (without breaking the slices if possible). Place on a paper towel and pat some of the moisture off the top dry with another one.
Place in a bowl or on serving plates. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil. Top with toasted pine nuts, feta cheese and a garnish of spice of your choice.
Serve immediately. This will keep 3 to 5 days in your refrigerator but IS ALWAYS better fresh.
Other recipes to try:
- Slice zucchini lengthwise using your vegetable peeler. Place in a colander, adding a sprinkle of salt between layers.
- Toss well in the colander. Place over a plate and let drain for 30 minutes
- Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a small pan over medium high heat until fragrant (about 3 minutes). Let them cool down.
- Gently squeeze excess liquid. Pat zucchini slices with a paper towel.
- Portion zucchini onto serving plates. Drizzle with lemon juice then olive oil. Top with pine nuts, feta cheese and a pinch of Aleppo pepper or sumac.