Chef Kelly Unger
Zucchini & my Ceviche Salad
Zucchini season, the only time of year our country cousins lock their doors to prevent someone from coming into their house and leaving them with more zucchini while they're at church. Zucchini is prolific! One plant can yield a ton of fruit and the beautiful blossoms are edible as well. Stuffing squash blossoms is a popular cheffy thing to do but, they’re quite cumbersome and I personally prefer to use them to beautify a salad.
When choosing zucchini at the market, I buy the smaller size for sauteing and the medium for stuffing. The larger the zucchini gets, the more water it contains and the flavor is diluted, so I avoid the large size.
I like making a big batch of spicy sweet zucchini pickles every Summer. I’m growing a hot pepper garden this year so this recipe is the perfect way to use them. But there are lots of hot peppers to be had from our vendors. You can make a quick, small batch salad version of my pickle recipe with all the same ingredients that I call a ceviche salad because the vegetables don’t sit in the brine like pickles. I’m sharing that recipe below. This salad will clear your sinuses, cure what ails you, is a great side dish to grilled meat or a topping for a burger, a lovely light lunch salad with bread, a mix in for a green salad or a great snack. It's also a great addition to the middle of a grilled cheese sandwich, and perks up any bland sandwich.
As I mentioned last week when talking about sweet corn, I like sauteing zucchini with fresh corn cut off the cob and onion, topped with grated parmesan. It’s a great Summer side dish. You can also add a diced, cooked potato with it to create a little Summer hash. Honestly, sometimes that’s my main course when these Summer vegetables are so plentiful and beautiful, and any excuse for cheese. Sometimes I also add some cherry tomatoes at the end of sauteing and cook them just until they burst. To make this for two as a main, I’ll use 2 small zucchini, 2 ears of corn, 1 medium onion, 1 large clove of garlic, 1 large or 2 medium potatoes and a large handful of cherry tomatoes. When everything is cooked, I pull the pan off the heat, finish with some salt and pepper, stir, then shred the parmesan on top so it melts nicely with the residual heat. Some days that pan looks like a snow capped mountain with all of the cheese I add, but it’s all personal preference
To stuff my zucchini, I cut them lengthwise and use the tip of a spoon to scrape out the seeds from the center, leaving a nice pocket for ingredients of my choosing. I also take each half and cut a small flat spot so the zucchini stays put while you’re stuffing and baking it. I stuff it with whatever I’m craving or have around. I use grains primarily - cooked rice, quinoa, wheat berries or a mix of many grains. Then I add onions and garlic for sure, another vegetable like peppers, and any other vegetable I’m in the mood for. I put all of these cooked ingredients in a bowl or add it to the pan after all the vegetables are sauteed, add some shredded cheese, salt and pepper and mix everything together before I stuff the zucchini. I, of course, add more cheese on top before placing the zucchini in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until everything is nicely browned. The zucchini should still be firm but not be raw.
We’ll be enjoying zucchini for a long time. I hope you’ll try my Ceviche Salad recipe and enjoy it!
Spicy Sweet Zucchini Ceviche Salad
Recipe by Chef Kelly Unger
Serves 2 to 3 as a salad, more as a topping or mix in
1 cup vinegar
5-6 tablespoons sugar, depending on your sweetness preference
2 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
½ carrot shredded
½ small red onion, sliced very thin on the uncut side
2 small hot peppers of your choice, diced very small or sliced thin
1 large clove of garlic minced
Place all of the vegetables in a pie plate. Heat the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan until it comes to a boil. Pour over vegetables and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature or longer. To serve, drain off vinegar. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for a week.