Abundance is a good thing, and at this time of year, when the garden has a seemingly endless supply of late summer and autumn squash that it’s throwing to us like a tennis ball machine, it helps to have a repertoire of recipes that puts these gifts to good use.
I discovered this amazingly simple salad in Florence this summer. In true Italian style, it has a minimum of ingredients. The key, of course, is the quality of the ingredients, as they are truly the stars of the show. In this case, end-of-summer zucchini is paired with a nutty, mildly piquant Pecorino and dressed with high quality extra-virgin olive oil and white truffle oil. The olive oil will bind the salad, and the truffle oil will seve as garnish. This is also efficient economically as truffle oil is pricey, so you need only use it sparingly as the final flourish. (Keep your truffle oil in the refrigerator, and it should last between 3-6 months before its aroma begins to weaken.) I bought this bottle directly from the restaurant that served me the salad – my favorite kind of souvenir.
As soon as the zucchini is salted it will begin to sweat, so prepare salad immediately before serving. Serves 4-6 as a side dish or appetizer
4 medium-sized zucchini, about 1 1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white truffle oil
Sea salt, about 1 teaspoon or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup shaved pecorino cheese such as Pecorino Sardo or Pecorino Toscana
Trim ends of zucchini. Peel the zucchini with a vegetable peeler lengthwise in long ribbons, rotating to peel evenly, stopping when you see the seeds. Discard core. Place zucchini ribbons in a medium-sized bowl. Add extra-virgin olive oil, truffle oil, sea salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine. Arrange on salad plates or in bowls. Sprinkle with Pecorino shavings. Serve immediately.