Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocados and Pistachios

This is one of those recipes that looks too simple to be as good as it is. Something about the combination of flavors and the addition of the salty pistachios brings it to another level. I made this twice. The first time for some friends a couple of weeks ago. And then about three times the amount last weekend for family.

Let me just go ahead and tell you that trying to make this in large quantities somehow doesn’t work as well. It’s harder to make it look pretty by layering the zucchini and avocado. In hindsight, I would have cut the zucchini and avocado in smaller pieces to allow the dressing salt to really hit every bite you take. The thin slices of zucchini can be delicate so you want to be careful when mixing the dressing in and working it through with your hands. Another thing that probably played a part in it being not so perfect the second time was that I used large zucchinis, not realizing the recipe calls for 4oz each. So I likely had double the amount of zucchini without making enough dressing to accommodate them. So pay close attention to that if you decide to make this. Just make more dressing if you can only find large zucchini. I didn’t use the pistachio oil because I couldn’t find it, so I used extra virgin olive oil. I can only imagine how much more flavorful this would have been with pistachio oil.

Most of the people that had this haven’t really eaten zucchini in it’s raw state. And if you haven’t, this should be a nice surprise. You will have a lot of lemon salt left. You can use the remainder in pastas, sauteed vegetables, etc.

Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocados and Pistachios
Recipe from Patricia Wells’ Cookbook “Salad as a Meal”

Lemon Zest Salt:

1 tablespoon lemon zest, preferably organic
1 tablespoon fine sea salt

Combine the lemon zest and salt in a spice grinder, and grind into a fine powder (i used a mortar and pestle). Transfer to a small jar and close the lid. (Store, sealed in the jar, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. After that the lemon flavor will begin to fade.)

Salad Ingredients:

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Zest Salt
3 tablespoons best-quality pistachio oil (such as Leblanc) or extra-virgin olive oil
4 small, fresh zucchini (about 4oz each) rinsed and trimmed at both ends
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 cup salted pistachios
Leaves from 4 fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme sprigs, with flowers if possible
Sea Salt (or Fleur de Sel)

Directions

In a small jar with a lid, combine the lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon Lemon Zest Salt. Cover with the lid and shake to blend. Add the oil and shake to blend.

With a mandoline, vegetable peeler, or very sharp chef’s knife slice the zucchini lengthwise as thin as possible.

Arrange the slices on a platter and pour the dressing over them. Tilt the platter back and forth to coat the slices evenly (you probably need to get your hands in there to make sure they are all coated). Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, so the zucchini absorbs the dressing and does not dry out.

Halve, pit, and peel the avocado, and cut it lengthwise into very thin slices. Carefully arrange the slices of marinated zucchini on individual salad plates, alternating with the avocado slices, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle with the pistachio nuts. Garnish with the thyme leaves and flowers and fleur de sel. Serve.

 

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