Zucchini Carpaccio ♥

Thin-sliced zucchini, dressed with (very very) good oil & vinegar"This is lunch?" asked an unimpressed fifteen-year old when encountering nothing but small plates of thin-sliced zucchini on the kitchen table. But with a go-along-to-get-along attitude, my nephew Alex attacked the zucchini and quickly allowed, "This is good, really really good."

For me, it was a lesson in the power of simplicity, how superior ingredients create the possibility of 'so much more from a whole lot less'. The lesson comes courtesy of the craftsmanship and generosity of the folks at O Olive Oil. These thin slices of baby zucchini are dressed with nothing more than (really really) good olive oil, (really really) good vinegar and a sprinkling of Maldon salt.

Even the 15-year old was impressed by the arrival of the O's beautiful bottles. We sniffed first, then read the labels. It was fun: orange? yes! lemon? yes!!

Then over the course of ten days, he learned how to make salad dressing, experimenting with sluicing the oil and vinegar with a fork, some times adding a dollop of mustard, other times fresh herbs from the side garden, matching orange to beets and lemon (and honey, his favorite) to zucchini.

Each new combination was a sensual delight, brightening salad greens and coaxing new depths of flavor from vegetables raw and roasted.

"Yummmm," I'd think, quoting a favorite olive-oil maker.

"We could drink this," said the fifteen-year old after whisking together a clear sunny-colored vinaigrette of meyer lemon olive oil and a champagne vinegar. He was right, we could have.

For simplicity like this, quality counts. It's a lesson not to be forgotten.

And while I've never before purchased really good olive oil or good vinegar, it's a lesson that has me budgeting for the good stuff from now on. My mental gyrations go like this: I happily spend $20 a pound for really good meat that's devoured in a single meal. But what if I skip the meat to purchase a bottle of olive oil that will grace lovely salads for an entire month? That's a deal I can live with.

WHAT IS CARPACCIO? Pronounced [kahr-PAH-chee-oh], carpaccio is an Italian dish, thin slices of raw beef, usually served as an appetizer. By extension, a zucchini carpaccio is thin slices of, yup, zucchini.

FROM THE ARCHIVES How about beet carpaccio? Or check the Recipe Box for more zucchini recipes.

A YEAR AGO THIS WEEK Spring & Summer Sliced Salad ... from Orangette, "the perfect salad meal for a hot summer night and a lovely side salad with grilled pork and broiled fish"


Hands-on time: 15 minutes (for 2 salads)
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 2

2 baby zucchini (1 per person, about 1/8 pound each)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 teaspoon good vinegar
Good salt

[or of course, your own proportions, another time we tried 4:1 oil and vinegar with a little honey, very very good]

Fresh mint, optional (we tried this another time, gorgeous!)
Pea sprouts, optional (same ...)

Slice the zucchini as thin as you can (I used a Japanese mandoline). Whisk the oil and vinegar, drizzle over top. Sprinkle with salt. Enjoy, immensely, immediately.

Nutrition Information Per 1/4 pound of raw zucchini, the flesh and skin both: 18 Cal (8% from Fat, 24% from Protein, 67% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 0 g Mono Fat; 4 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 2 g Sugar; 17 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 11 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 0 points

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A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007


You are so absolutely right about investing in good pantry ingredients, like olive oil and vinegars, that will enhance many dishes. Good olive oil really lifts the food it's paired with, and spread over the cost of many meals, it's really not terribly expensive to buy the very best. Love the zucchini carpaccio, too -- another excuse to use my mandoline!

Alanna - I love the story about your surprised nephew :) And a good olive oil, as well as wine vinegar are essential. I so agree..

It's so pretty, too. And you must remember, all teenagers are hard to impress, so don't be to offended.

A perfect recipe for these steamy days when you don't want to cook. And I agree, nothing improves flavor more than quality oils and vinegars.

It's so true...when you've got good quality ingredients, you really don't need to do much!!
I love Maldon salt, isn't it amazing??

What kind of olive oil did you use? Karen

Hi Karen ~ With this salad we used the Meyer Lemon Olive Oil from O Olive Oil, it's truly gorgeous.

This and the cucumbers both look perfect and summery. Yes, to wonderful ingredients. I collect vinegars -- amazing how the perfect one can change a dish!

Alanna, that's gorgeous! I love it.

And look what a refreshingly light and beautiful carpaccio yours is

That looks fantastic! I must try that olive oil. I was just thinking yesterday about how simple dishes are the best -- but you must have the best ingredients.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna