My relationship with zucchini has never been functional. I want to love it, since there’s so much of it around in the summer and it’s so easy to prepare, but it always tastes watery and disappointing, whether steamed, grilled, or...okay, fried is the exception. But I can’t be breading and frying zucchini all that often.
Recently I tried this zucchini and chicken salad and discovered that, all this time, I’ve been going about things all wrong. Slivered up in a flash with my handheld Japanese mandoline, then tossed with a lemony dressing, raw zucchini tastes great and has a much nicer texture than cooked zucchini. You can eat this plain or tossed with eight ounces of baby spinach, as suggested in the book. Stuffed into a pita, it would also make a nice summer sandwich. I skipped the pecans on account of my husband’s deadly nut allergy, and the Parmesan because I am cheap. We made do with a scattering of sunflower seeds, which were good. Next time I might try chick peas and feta instead of pecans and Parmesan.
For me and zucchini, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.
- 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/4 pounds zucchini, thinly sliced (I used a handheld mandoline)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, halved
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 8 ounces young spinach, well washed (optional; in case you want this as a salad with greens)
- 4 whole wheat pita (optional; in case you want this as a sandwich)
Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add zucchini and toss to coat. Let marinate while cooking the chicken.
Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium in large nonstick skillet, preferably cast iron. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 7 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and slice thin.
Toss everything together and serve.