Monday, July 16, 2012

Shaved Salad with Honey-Smoked Almonds and Lemon Vinaigrette

It's been hot as Hades around here lately. Thankfully, the heat wave finally broke the other week into some days with highs in the 80s. Amazing how suddenly 80-degree weather sounds chilly. Seriously.

While dining at Empellón Cocina in the middle of the heat wave, I enjoyed a salad with raw shaved summer squash. Whenever I've served summer squash (a.k.a. yellow zucchini), I've always sautéed it. But it has a pleasant, refreshing flavor raw. The look of the shaved squash is really cool, like pappardelle pasta.

I wanted to pair it with other fresh flavors. I immediately thought of fennel, which also works well shaved, lemon, mint and basil. With those ideas in mind, I came across this recipe in Bon Appétit, which is a similar concept but also included almonds, which I thought was a great idea, not only because it was a contrast to the summer-fresh flavors in the salad but could serve as a vessel for a hint of smoky flavor, another summer staple. With a light coating of smoked paprika, they're also the color of squash blossoms, which is cool.

Shaving the vegetables requires the right equipement. I found a vegetable peeler worked great for the zucchini, but I don't think a mandoline would work well. However, the mandoline was much easier to use in shaving the bell pepper than a vegetable peeler.

Shaved Salad with Honey-Smoked Almonds and Lemon Vinaigrette

1/3 slivered almonds
Dash of smoked paprika
1 tsp. honey
Sprinkle of smoked sea salt
Two handfuls of baby arugula
1 zucchini, yellow or green, peeled, and shaved into long, wide strips with a vegetable peeler
1/4 fennel bulb, shaved with a vegetable peeler or mandoline
1/2 yellow bell pepper, shaved with a mandoline
Small clump of fresh mint, small leaves or large leaves torn in half
5-6 basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

1. Heat almonds in a small frying pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When they start to brown, sprinkle with smoked paprika, add the teaspoon of honey, and continue cooking another couple minutes, stirring to coat evenly with honey. Season with salt and set aside.

2. Arrange the arugula on a platter. Top with shaved zucchini (I rolled them up for visual appeal), fennel and bell pepper. Sprinkle with mint and basil leaves.

3. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, fresh ground pepper and salt. Pour over salad and top with almonds.

1 comment:

  1. What a pretty picture! The shaved squash really does look like pasta. I think that's what I thought it was when you served this.