Years ago, while visiting the Amish Country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we went for a long walk in the evening. In the middle of the sidewalk in front of one of the farms, was a basket full of the biggest zucchini I’ve ever seen. A sign on the basket read, “Please help yourself.” Of course, as a New Yorker, my first reaction was one of suspicion and concern: is it ok to eat something that was left out on the sidewalk? Might it have been tampered with in some way? Part of a sinister plot to poison unsuspecting vegetable-lovers??
This kind of thing was so…well, not what you’d see in New York, that I couldn’t help but find it suspect. That is, until I looked around at the landscape of farms, as far as the eye can see, and considered the Amish lifestyle, which moves to the rhythm of the seasons and centers on simplicity and community. Then, it made perfect sense.
The farm had obviously produced more zucchini than they could use and they wished to share their bounty with others, whether they be friends, neighbors, or strangers on the street (like me). Struck by the generosity of this simple gesture, I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. And grab a zucchini out of the basket.
I returned home the following day, ready to cook. It’s a good thing that I have so many zucchini recipes because it took a week, and several meals, to use it all up. This recipe for Zucchini Ribbons with Lemon Vinaigrette is a healthy and delightful alternative to a pasta side dish. It gets such a quick sauté, that the zucchini ribbons retain their color and freshness, while softening just enough to twirl around the fork. A generous sprinkle of parmigiano-reggiano cheese gives the zucchini a salty tang, and completes the pasta “fake-out.”
What are your favorite ways to prepare zucchini? (Just in case you happen to find any laying around.)
Zucchini Ribbons with Lemon Vinaigrette
2 medium zucchini, peeled and sliced into ribbons (use a vegetable peeler for this)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (for cooking)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (for the dressing)
juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbsp.)
1/4 cup basil, also sliced into ribbons
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper, to taste
(optional: grated parmegiano-reggiano cheese, to taste)
Make a dressing with the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon. Add salt and pepper, whisk and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and saute just until the garlic just begins to brown. Add the zucchini ribbons and saute for 2-3 minutes, tossing occasionally. When the zucchini ribbons just begin to soften, add the basil. Toss one more time and remove from the heat. Pour the lemon vinaigrette over top and, if you desire, sprinkle with grated cheese and a few more grinds of pepper.