This summer I turned up the notch on my veggie consumption. I was drinking green smoothies, making salads, and having meals consisting of nothing but veggies. Of course, I haven also reasoned that eating lots of veggies makes it okay to eat them with cheese. If a chef didn't write cheese into the recipe, well let's just say I did it for them!
For example, this week I chose a Jacques Pepin Zucchini and Olive Salad that was a very simple recipe consisting of zucchini, white wine vinegar, olive oil, olives, chives, salt and pepper. But to my horror, I feel like Pepin missed a perfectly good opportunity to adorn the top of this salad with crumbles of goat cheese. Right? I mean they pair so well together why wouldn't you?
And, take your time in the cheese section of your market because goat cheese has come A LONG WAY since it was first brought to market. I really like the Orange Blossom Honey Goat Cheese, but my newest obsession is the Everything Bagel Goat Cheese. Either of those version would be good here.
Pepin says to cut the zucchini into 1/4" rounds, dust it with salt and bake it for about 5-7 minutes to firm up the zucchini and heat up/cook some of the moisture out. This salad can be served warm or cold, but I enjoyed it best served warm. The zucchini pair so well with the briney olives and the creamy goat cheese. I also sprinkled my salad with a little red pepper flakes because I like things a little spicy. This was a really good salad that would make for a pretty appetizer when entertaining and/or served next to fish and/or chicken. I would definitely make it again, with cheese- of course!
Zucchini and Olive Salad
Adapted from Essential Pepin
by Jacques Pepin
2 zucchini (about 1-1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pitted oil-cured black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Optional: sprinkle of red pepper flakes and/or goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the zucchini, trim off the ends, and cut into 1/4" thick rounds. Arrange the rounds in one layer on a large cookie sheet and sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the zucchini renders some of its moisture and softens slightly.
Transfer the zucchini rounds to a bowl and toss them gently with the pepper, vinegar, and oil. Serve immediately, garnished with the black olives and chives.