Zucchini Salad

Zucchini Salad

One memory I have about my childhood summers was my aunt planting zucchini at our country house and harvesting vast quantities of them through the season. This routine assured her an adequate supply of zucchini flowers, which she would fry or use to make fritters, frittatas, and even pizza. (In the 50s and 60s, zucchini flowers–not then known as “blossoms”–were hard to come by.)

With the zucchini themselves, she would prepare a variety of dishes: among them, ciambotto, an Italian version of ratatouille; cocozelle (zucchini sauteed with onions and then combined with gently scrambled egg); a simple saute with garlic and oil as a side dish; scapece (fried slices of zucchini marinated with vinegar, garlic, and mint) and this simple salad similar to scapece but not fried.



2 small zucchini
2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs mint
1/4 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon oil


1- In a 3 quart sauce pan bring water to a boil.

2- Partially peel the zucchini in alternating strips. If the zucchini are very young, you can leave the peel on.

Peeled Zucchini

3- Quarter the zucchini and then slice into 2-inch wedges and thinly slice the garlic.

Prepped Zucchini & Garlic

4- Tear the mint leaves.

Torn Mint Leaves

5- Add salt to the boiling water and slide in the zucchini wedges. Blanch for approximately 3 minutes.

6- When done, place the blanched zucchini in an ice bath.

Zucchini Chillin’

7- Drain the zucchini and transfer to a small serving dish just big enough to hold them in a single layer.

8- Salt the zucchini and then drizzle with the vinegar and oil. Add the garlic and mint leaves.

8- Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours stirring once or twice.

Serve as a side dish or with crusty bread as an appetizer or salad.

Served as a salad

I served this as a salad after Mark Bittman’s Deviled Chicken Thighs.

Deviled Chicken Thighs

Wine Pairing: Southern French Rose

Gemelli with Tuna and Tomatoes: Act II


Raised in a family who suffered through the Great Depression, I was often reminded how important it was to save money and never let good food go to waste. My mother never let me forget that “people were starving in other parts of the world.” Her words made a lasting impression.

Indeed, using one night’s leftovers for the next day’s meal helps me justify spending so much for top quality ingredients. Tuesday’s gemelli with tuna and cherry tomatoes is a perfect example. The pasta’s main ingredient, Italian tuna packed in olive oil, was quite expensive—close to $25 for the two six-ounce jars—add to this the cost of the other ingredients and we’re looking at almost$40.

The pasta was wonderful the first night; however, I’m not a fan of reheated pasta, especially when it was prepared with fish. So I thought I would serve it last night as a salad. I took the pasta from the fridge two hours before dinner so that it would come to room temperature. I then made a light vinaigrette with some extra-virgin olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. After tossing the past in the dressing, I added the juice of one lemon, a finely minced clove of garlic, a few more quartered cherry tomatoes, a good pinch of salt (cold dishes always seem to require more salt) and some freshly ground black pepper.

I served the pasta on a bed of wild arugula dressed with a drizzle of olive oil, some lemon zest, and a pinch of slat.

Paired with a dry rosé from Provence, this repurposed pasta was the perfect dish for dining al fresco on a humid summer’s night.

Would enjoy hearing from others their thoughts about using leftovers.

Grilled Steaks, Corn on the Cob, and Tomato Salad


Gone are the days when I could eat steaks like this 3 or 4 times a week. Now, more health conscious, it’s more like a once-a-month indulgence. Rather than our small electric grill, I prefer to use a two-burner grill pan to prepare steaks like this one.

I leave the steaks out of the fridge for about an hour to let them come to room temperature. I dry them with paper towels, and season one side liberally with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. I place the steaks seasoned-side down on a preheated hot grill pan pressing down to ensure full contact with the grill. I then season the second side as I did the first.

I cook on high for one minute and then on medium for about 5 minutes more for steaks that are an 1.25 inches thick. I then flip and cook on high for one minute and on medium, again for about 5 minutes.

After each one minute sear on high, I move the steaks to the center of the grill so that they’re not directly over the flame.

After cooking, I allow the steaks to rest for several minutes before serving.

For our salad, I prepared a fresh tomato salad that I used to enjoy as a child. For the tomatoes, I used some beautiful mini San Marzano tomatoes grown in Texas by Village Farms that I just discovered at our local Whole Foods. They’re perfectly textured and delightfully sweet.


I slice the tomatoes in half and season with Kosher salt. I then add one large garlic clove thinly sliced, a pinch of dried oregano, and about 6 basil leaves torn. I drizzle the salad with extra virgin olive oil and add a small ice cube. I then cover the salad with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. The ice cube is a carry over from my aunt, who used it to extend the dressing.

Wine Pairing: Valpolicella Ripasso

Tomato Salad


Even when you have leftovers for dinner as we did last night, it’s nice to add something fresh to the menu. Some leftover pollo alla caccciatora was on the menu for supper yesterday and I wanted to bring something fresh to the table. Earlier in the day, I found some great tomatoes at the market and thought of a salad I often enjoyed while growing up.

Tomato Salad
4 or 5 ripe, yet still firm, tomatoes
Salt to taste
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
4 or 5 leaves fresh basil rolled and cut into strips
1 small ice cube

  1. Depending on their size, cut 4 or 5 tomatoes in quarters or eighths.
  2. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  3. Drizzle with the olive oil.
  4. Add the oregano after rubbing it in your palms to release the flavor.
  5. Add the basil.
  6. Toss to coat.
  7. Add 1 small ice cube and refrigerate for at least an hour. The ice blends with the juices from the tomatoes to extend the dressing.

Toss before serving.

Steak Salad for Lunch


I made a quick lunch today from leftover ribeye steak and chickpeas. I dressed the arugula with a touch of good balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. Topped it with lightly salted, thinly sliced leftover steak and a few chickpeas that were also tossed separately with some of the oil and vinegar. Served with a couple of slices of ciabatta.