Zucchini Carpaccio

I came across this tweet from Julia Bainbridge just as the zucchini from the CSA and our own garden were starting to pile up. They are good grilled, but I’m always on the lookout for something different because they are so plentiful this time of year.

As Julia notes, she isn’t the first to come up with this, and neither am I. Just sharing the good news in this time of beaucoup squash.

You can make a full plate with one medium zucchini or squash, which makes an excellent side dish for two people.

For background, carpaccio is usually a thin-sliced meat dish dressed with an oil, an acid, and seasonings. You can apply that same framework to other foods, basically anything that you can slice thin and eat raw. It is almost like a quick pickle, but without the sugar.

It is definitely possible to slice the zucchini or squash with a sharp knife, but using a mandoline definitely helps. Here is the one I use, but it is by no means the best or even cheapest on out there.

Here are three recent variations I’ve made:

Zucchini sliced thin with dill, parmesan, tomatoes, borage flowers, lemon juice, and olive oil.

This one is zucchini sliced longways with dill, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, Penzeys Tuscan Sunset, black pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and borage flowers.

yellow squash sliced thin with cilantro, cotija, tomatoes, lime juice, and tajin.

This one is yellow squash sliced shortways like discs, which I find easier to eat, even though it doesn’t look as pretty as if it were sliced longways. It was meant to similar to the top one with parsley added, but when I realized after I chopped it that I had grabbed the cilantro instead of the parsley, I rolled with it and made a Mexican flavored one instead: Lime juice, olive oil, cotija cheese, cherry tomatoes, Tajin seasoning and cilantro.

This third carpaccio is roughly Middle East inspired: Sumac (since I didn’t have any za’atar on hand… this pandemic has kept me from Kalustyan’s!), feta, shaved carrots, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Some tips:

  • Use whatever you have in the fridge, pantry, or garden. Don’t make a special trip to the store for this.
  • Cheese is essential, no matter what kind it is. Every single zucchini carpaccio we’ve eaten this summer has been better with cheese.
  • Make it beautiful. Take a few extra minutes to make it look nice on the plate. Food that looks pretty tastes better.
  • This is best eaten outside. On a porch or in a yard if you have one, on the roof, stoop, or local park if you don’t. This is more about getting outside and tasting summer, especially during these pandemic times.
  • Your favorite spices will mostly likely work on this! Don’t worry, just try it.
  • Leverage fresh herbs from your garden, window box, or kitchen terra cotta pot that you sometimes forget to water. Knowing that you grew an ingredient makes it taste better and makes it more yours.

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