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Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Toasted Almonds

I've never been a great gardener, but I've always been surrounded by those who have been more than willing to help me with their eager green thumbs. I grew up with a garden in our backyard every year, and monthly visits to my Grandpa's full acre garden. Every Fall we'd make it up to Cache Valley Utah for harvest time, and shuck corn, boil corn, and bag corn the entire day. Our pumpkins always came from Grandpa's garden, my Mom made fresh jam from the raspberries, we had endless amounts of squash and zucchini, and my Grandma's apple tree was something Martha Stewart's trees could envy. It was a dreamy childhood of a beautiful and deep appreciation of the fruits of the land. I didn't fully appreciate what my Grandparents had done, and how amazing a gardener my mother is, until I tried to grow my own. 

It first started out with pots on my balcony as a newlywed in Provo Utah. My husband and I were pushing through both our undergrads and I didn't really have time for tending to my plants as well as I should have. Sure, we were able to enjoy a few cherry tomatoes here and there, but they tasted like laundry soap because I accidentally left them in the direct air flow of the laundry vent. Yikes. 

Next, I tried to grow a few cherry & grape tomato plants on our back porch in our little brick house on the corner during law school. The cherry plant went nuts and produced tons and tons of cherries! My cilantro and rosemary died almost immediately in my herb garden, but my basil thrived through the winter. I also tried to plant a garden in my parents-in-law's backyard. My Mom came over and we planted all kinds of fun things. It survived the summer, and did quite well! 

But nothing can top this summer's garden. My sister-in-law Stephanie and I planted all kinds of delicious veggie seeds and plants in a patch of land in my parents-in-law's backyard. She has done such a good job keeping it not only alive, but growing like nothing I've ever seen! We've been able to enjoy lots of peas, yellow squash, a pepper, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and a TON of zucchini. (Can't wait for the large tomatoes, carrots, and pumpkins to be ready). I seriously have had zucchini coming out of my ears!!! SO. MUCH. ZUCCHINI. I also learned recently that my husband and son both hate zucchini. This means that I have been on my own in eating our share of the zucchini, and man has it been tricky some days! 

My favorite ways have been to make them into zucchini pizza bites, sauteed zucchini noodles, zucchini noodles with marinara sauce, breaded zucchini slices, parmesan baked zucchini fries, and the list goes on! 

Recently, though, I tried making my zucchini into ribbons. It's super easy - all you need is a vegetable peeler. I love the way they taste all sauteed up with a little EVOO and salt/pepper. But adding some toasted almonds, parmesan cheese, and a splash of lemon juice? It was NUTS, I tell you! (literally). We ate this alongside some grilled chicken and I don't recall any complaining, and watched the plates empty. I'd call that a success! 

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Toasted Almonds
makes 4 servings

1/2 C sliced almonds, toasted and cooled
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
2 small cloves garlic, peeled
3 medium thin zucchini, ends removed and peeled with a veggie peeler 
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 T lemon juice 

1. Pulse the first three ingredients in a food processor until a rough crumble forms. Set aside. 
2. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add peeled zucchini ribbons in warm oil, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, and saute until zucchini had softened, but still has a little bite to it, about 2 minutes. Squeeze a little lemon juice on it, then remove from heat. 
3. In a large bowl, toss the cooked zucchini with almond Parmesan crumble and serve immediately. 

recipe adapted from: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


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