I know what you’re thinking. Zucchini? Apricots?? Please, please hear me out.
Something magical happens when you shave vegetables rather than chop them. Zucchini, which can be bland as cardboard if left to its own devices, will fall into crisp-tender ribbons and soak up whatever you choose to drizzle over it. The varieties available at farmers’ markets right now are plentiful and any will work, but I suggest choosing smaller ones as the texture will be less spongy.
Fresh apricots, another under-appreciated member of the produce family, are at their juicy, tender best right now. Just like tomatoes, I think their less than stellar reputation comes from cross-country shipping/grocery store woes. By the time grocery store apricots reach our table, they’re almost always dry and bland. Trust me and grab them while you can at your local farmers’ market!
Basil is prolific right now, and if you’re growing it in your garden, chances are some of it is flowering. Don’t discard the flowers! They add beauty to any plate and are laced with the same delicious anise flavor as the leaves. (You can do this with any herb, not just basil.) Micro-greens also add nutrition-packed beauty and color to summer salads. I scattered a few pinches of purple amaranth from Lake Forest Farms across this one.
The goat cheese in this salad is fresh – I found this one at Elawa Farm’s weekend market where Gretta’s Goats had a stand. This local creamery grazes its goats on local, organic pastures. It’s creamy and mild and pairs beautifully with the delicate apricot juices in this salad’s dressing.
Shaved Zucchini and Fresh Apricot Salad with Basil and Goat Cheese
This salad is a perfect light lunch, but it also works well with grilled pork or chicken for a heartier lunch or light supper.
- 1 large lemon
- 6 small, fresh apricots
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large or two small zucchini squash
- 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, plus small leaves and flowers for garnish
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup fresh goat cheese
- micro-greens for garnish (optional)
Zest lemon into a small bowl. Cut lemon in half and reserve. Cut apricots into halves or quarters over the bowl to catch any juices, discarding pits. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over apricots, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and toss very gently to coat.
Top and tail your zucchini. Shave into thin, lengthwise slices with a vegetable peeler or mandolin, stopping if you’ve reached a seedy center. Give it a quarter turn and repeat shaving until you reach seeds, repeating on all four sides until all that’s left is a core. Discard core and place shaved zucchini in a large bowl. Squeeze rest of lemon half over zucchini, drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a few big grinds of black pepper. Tear basil leaves into large pieces over the zucchini ribbons. Using your hands, toss gently to coat each ribbon with the dressing.
Pour apricots and all of the liquid from small bowl over zucchini, tossing very gently with your hands to combine. Test for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
Loosely mound handfuls of zucchini ribbons onto a platter and scatter apricots into the open spaces. Spoon or pinch bits of goat cheese across the platter, then drizzle all remaining juices from bowl over salad. Garnish with small basil leaves, flowers, and micro greens, if desired.