Balsamic Zuchini Mint Salad (Paleo, Vegan, Raw) (Gennaro Contaldo)
I think everyone has their food inspirations. For some of us, it’s a particular style, or chef, or cuisine that we always fall back on. For me, it’s my Italian roots. I can make anything out of a little rosemary, garlic, and lemon.
Every culture has it’s own language of the palate- it’s own particular set of flavour combinations that work well with different vegetables, fruits, and meats. Growing up with my nonna, anything with a hint of the smell of bubbling cheese and tomato sauce instantly brings me back to childhood. The fact that I can eat neither cheese or tomatoes anymore simply makes me embrace the flavours that remain, as tightly as I hold the memory of her soft cheeks, strong hands, wisps of silvery hair sneaking from her bun at the nape of her neck, and Wednesday afternoons making pasta and sauce in her basement kitchen, where I now sit typing to you. Yes, tastes are home and tender ghosts to me.
Yipes typing late at night makes me all wax poetic. Ok enough. back to food.! Although I follow a ton of blogs, now and again I sit down with my favorite italian cookbooks and remind myself of where I come from. (Side note- if you want good Italian-style food blogs, you must visit Katie Parla and Emiko Davies )
Sitting down with my favorite ‘chefs’, leafing through their stories and recipes, reminds me that vegan, raw, or paleo or allergen-free or gluten free food is as simple and as easy as the people who lived on simple rustic peasant fare ages ago. Get to the Mediterranean and you’ll realize there’s plenty of variety waiting for you- its us North Americans that make it too complicated. :)
So, favorite books. I have several favorite Italian chefs and cooks that I hold very, very dear. They take Italian food and play with it expertly, lyrically, and make it something beautiful without straying too far from its roots.
My first favorite- Ursula Ferrigno (italian vegetarian, Tuscan style). Tied with her is Gennaro Contaldo (um, The Godfather of Jamie Oliver and very Amalfi Coast / Campania style), and Antonio Carluccio (the Northern Italian Godfather of Gennaro). Together, they’re unbeatable. (Actually, you must check out Gennaro and Antonio driving around Italy in the BBC show Two Greedy Italians. Here’s the Youtube version of the second season. They are hilarious. And they make me miss my old uncles quite alot.)
Oh, ok, I admit I also like David Rocco. But who doesn’t like David- look at that Italo-Canadeze smile he’s got going on! lol
Right, enough blabbering for such a simple salad. This recipe comes from Gennaro Contaldo’s book “Passione” (ISBN 0755311183), page 157. Its very simple, and perfectly ballanced between the balsamic sweet bite, the mellow zuchini and fresh mint. The garlic ties it all together. Its even better the second day. If you don’t do balsamic because its fermented or too sweet, I would suggest lemon juice and a hint of stevia powder.
Note: If you are going to keep it in the fridge, don’t add salt. Salt just before serving, or else everything will get mushy and limp. Also, try using white balsamic vinegar. That way, it stays beautiful. The regular, dark balsamic, is just as tasty, but for me, eating brownish coloured zuchini just messes with my head. Also, get the SMALLEST garlic clove you can find, or just use half of one. Otherwise, it will overpower the dish.
Balsamic Zuchini Mint Salad
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I prefer white), (or use lemon juice plus a touch of honey or agave nectar)
- 1 small garlic clove minced finely
- handful fresh mint, finely chopped
- 2 small zuchini, peeled in strips (use a vegetable peeler)
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon zest to garnish
- This is sooooo hard. Throw all the ingredients in a bowl and toss.
- Whew. I need like an energy drink to recover or something. lol