Arugula Salad with Shaved Zucchini, Pistachios and Parmesan
When my stepmother asked me last year if I’d lend my culinary skillz to a fundraiser she was organizing for the MDI Hospital, I enthusiastically agreed. Having visited that ER with many a scary bug bite, sprained ankle, and panic attack, I was happy to do whatever I could to help raise funds for the hospital that takes care of me and so many of my very favorite people. Philanthropy!!!
Plus, Martha Stewart was involved, and the prospect of spending some QT with the first lady of domesticity had me all kinds of hot and bothered.
The plan was this: I would be responsible for the first course, Mandy Fountaine (local caterer extraordinaire) would provide dinner, and Martha would slay with one of her magical desserts. This glorious feast was to be served at sunset in a beautiful private garden to 100+ hospital supporters.
The planning for this fiesta, which took place ten days ago, began last SEPTEMBER. Not being a planner myself, I found such long-term thinking mildly overwhelming. Too much time to mull over ideas is not good for those of us with obsessive tendencies, and I began to treat my “Martha Dinner” like last year’s “Salad Talk.” I’d jot down a recipe idea every once in a while, then pick it apart, worry about presentation and scaling for a crowd, panic a little, and then promptly forget about it for several weeks because whatever. I had like A YEAR to brainstorm.
Then, in early May, I received the following invitation in the mail:
Please join Leandra Fremont Smith and Noelle Wolf along with celebrity chefs Martha Stewart and Serena Wolf for an evening of delicious dining in support of Mount Desert Island Hospital.
I mean, talk about shit getting real. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to be called a “celebrity” and to see my name next to Martha’s, but I also realized that I needed to get the ball rolling on my recipe STAT. There were menus to be mocked up, ingredients to be ordered, and people to please, so I buckled down and started testing. I had all kinds of outrageously fancy ideas, but ultimately, I decided to keep it simple with an Arugula Salad with Shaved Zucchini, Pistachios and Parmesan.
I felt good about my choice (after giving myself multiple pep talks like this), as it’s light, bright, and bursting with fresh herb and citrus flavors. The subtle earthiness of raw zucchini adds depth to a simple, yet highly textured green salad, and it looks all kinds of sassy on a white plate. BOOM.
The above is pretty much how I described my dish to dinner guests in the very last-minute speech I was asked to give. The food talk was followed by some jokes about the weather (which was freezing and gray), and a general thank you to the organizers, who put together such a beautiful event and allowed me to be on an invitation with Martha. There were other things said, but I can’t remember them because I tend to blackout upon entering my speech-giving zone. (Based on the 20 photos Logan took of me cracking myself up, I choose to believe I was hilarious.) I love me a microphone.
If you’re in the market for a festive appetizer or side to serve at your next summer soirée, I highly recommend taking this battle-tested beauty for a spin. It can be served on a platter (which is quite fetching) or plated individually, and it pairs nicely with pretty much anything you can think of. Better still, it’s a breeze to make. I’m talking 15 minutes total, peeps. And if the idea of raw zucchini scares you (it shouldn’t), feel free to prep the zucchini portion of the dish in advance. It will get nice and tender after a couple hours in the fridge.
Happy Hump Day, friends! Remember this?
p.s. For those of you that were wondering, Martha made a Gooseberry and Blueberry Crisp with Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream. She grew the gooseberries on her farm. Naturally.
Arugula Salad with Shaved Zucchini, Pistachios and Parmesan: (Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or side)
1 medium zucchini
½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Fresh ground pepper
5 ounces baby arugula
½ cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped pistachios
Preparing your Arugula Salad with shaved Zucchini, Pistachios and Parmesan:
-Let’s start with the zucchini. Shave the zucchini into paper thin rounds using a mandolin. (No mandolin? No problem. Just slice the zucchini as thinly as you possibly can with your sharpest knife.)
-In a large mixing bowl, toss the zucchini with the lemon zest. Arrange the zucchini in a single layer, slightly overlapping, on a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. And sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and a few cranks of fresh ground pepper.
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