A salad of grilled zucchini is the perfect summer accompaniment. It takes only moments on the grill to flavor up these olive oil bathed slices of zucchini. Once grilled, drizzle the zucchini with a touch of balsamic. That’s it…. just olive oil, salt, pepper and vinegar. To finish, add baby greens, fresh basil, toasted hazelnuts and shavings of Parmesan cheese. Easy and delicious, you and your guests will be rewarded with the taste of sunny Italy in your own backyard – minus the airfare, of course.
Grilled Zucchini Salad with Hazelnuts and Parmesan
*Start to finish: 30 minutes
*Hands on time: 30 minutes
You’re going to love the combination of lightly grilled zucchini with buttery hazelnuts, basil and nutty, salty Parmesan cheese. It’s fresh, seasonal, local fare at its best and it’s just the right complement in color, texture and taste to the pasta.
Ingredients (Serves 4):
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- Four 8-inch zucchini, sliced into1/4-in/6 mm diagonal slices
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar plus more for drizzling
- 2 bunches basil, torn, about 2/3 cup
- 4 handfuls mixed baby greens
- Shaved Parmesan cheese (use a vegetable peeler) to taste
Fire up the grill to its highest heat.
Pour the hazelnuts into a cake pan or other small metal container in which they can brown on the grill. Close the lid and brown them as if they were in an oven for about 4 or 5 minutes, checking frequently to make sure they don’t burn. Give the pan a shake every minute or so. Once toasted, remove them from the grill and spill them onto a clean dishtowel. Wrap them up and give them a rub with the towel to remove some of the skin which can be bitter. Allow them to cool, scoop the nuts from the towel and chop lightly. Shake the skins from the towel into the trash.
Trim and slice the zucchini on the diagonal into longish strips (so they don’t fall through the grates on the grill), about 1/4-inch thick. Toss them in a medium bowl with about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Lay out the zucchini slices on the grill and cook them until they have grill marks, about 2 minutes. Turn them and grill mark the other side. You don’t want them to become limp. They should still have a little firmness to them. Add them back to the bowl along with a the balsamic and toss them up gently to mix.
Arrange the greens on a large platter and top it with the zucchini, basil, hazelnuts and shaved Parmesan curls along with any liquid in the bowl. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic and another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serve immediately or hold for up to 30 minutes.
Make-ahead: If you want to cook the zucchini ahead of time, you can grill it up to 2 hours ahead and keep it at room temperature, then assemble the salad as directed just before serving.