This salad is super easy and is a perfect side, or the main star if served with some fresh goat or feta cheese. The key is to use quality extra virgin olive oil, and use a lot of it. The fresher the zucchini, the better. This salad will taste even better after a rest – the flavors will meld together – and should be served at room temperature. You you can cook the zucchini either on the grill pan or on the grill. Pair with bright Portuguese Soalheiro Alvarinho.
Makes 4 portions as a side, or 2 portions as a main
2 pounds of fresh zucchini
3⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic (or more, to your taste), thinly sliced
A handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
2 tsp of kosher salt (or more to taste)
2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
Start with flavoring the olive oil–reserve 2 tbsp in a small bowl (that you will use for the salad). Combine oil, sliced garlic, vinegar and most of the mint. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Heat a cast iron grill pan on the stove, or prepare the grill. If you’re using a grill pan, brush it with some oil. Slice the zucchini into 1⁄4 inch disks. (The disks shouldn’t be too thin because they would easily burn and dry. We’re looking for an “al dente” effect with deep charred lines). Turn the zucchini disks the other way to cook on both sides. A couple of minutes on each side should suffice, depending on the size of the slices.
As the zucchini cooks, remove the slices with tongs and add them to the flavored oil. When adding more zucchini to the bowl of flavored oil, make sure you mix everything so that the newly cooked slices are at the bottom of the bowl to absorb the oil. Sprink with more salt as you add layers of zucchini.
Once all the zucchini is grilled, mix everything gently, add the rest of the mint and let the salad sit at room temperature for half an hour, or more in the fridge. Serve as a side with grilled meat or fish, or on its own, sprinkled with fresh cheese and with a slice of bread.