Some lucky people are swamped with zucchini these days. Imagine a garden in your own yard, filled with summer produce and zucchini and herbs popping out all over. Since I am an urban dweller and dirt-deprived I am quite envious of people with gardens. We just passed the annual “sneak some zucchini on your neighbor’s porch” day, and sadly no one did this to me, but in my urban highrise it would be likely snarfed up by other garden-free zucchini-hungry neighbors.
If you are overwhelmed with zucchini you might like to try the refreshing salad I made for the Bay Area Food Blogger’s picnic. It’s a riff on a traditional Thai salad that calls for cucumber and celery. With my weird food intolerances I cannot eat those vegetables so I decided to go with thinly sliced zucchini and fennel to approximate texture and found the combination even better than what I remembered having at my local Thai restaurants. It was really refreshing with the mint and cilantro leaves and a hit of heat from red chile flakes. I served with an Asian marinated chicken legs and that was a terrific combination.
My little double-edged mandolin made quick work of the prep, I sliced up the zucchini right into the mixing bowl, then carefully sliced the fennel. I picked off leaves from the bunches of mint and cilantro, added a pinch or two of the red chile and added shiso dressing until everything seemed moistened enough. After an hour in the fridge I tossed the vegetables again as the zucchini expressed a lot of water from their contact with the soy shiso dressing. Before leaving for the picnic I mixed up the vegetables one last time and lifted them out of the mixing bowl with a slotted spoon to leave behind the excess liquid. I plopped the salad into my picnic serving box and added some more herbs and toasted sesame seeds on top, into my cooler it went and I was off to the park!
Many thanks to Faith of Blog Appetit for sharing her photo of the salad! Now I need to make her vegetarian paella.