Zia Lucia’s Zucchini and Mint Salad

This is a salad that reminds my mom of her Aunt Lucia, who used to live in Cosenza, a small city in Calabria.  Only my mother’s aunt used to make this salad for her–my grandmother never cared to make it.  Therefore the memories of it, for my mom, are forever connected with Zia Lucia.

My most vivid memory of Zia Lucia was a visit she paid my family when I was a child.  While we were out at school during the day, my aunt was determined to make dinner for us.  Not finding a larder full of food in our basement (as she was accustomed to having in Italy), she spotted a rabbit running around our yard.  My mother arrived home just in time to call off the hunt and explain to Aunt Lucia that if any of our neighbors had spotted her chasing a rabbit with a broomstick, we’d all have a lot of explaining to do!  She settled on making a sublime potato dish for us that I shall always remember–I’ll publish it one day.

Back to the salad:  zucchini are sliced lengthwise on a mandoline, then blanched.  The wilted slices of zucchini are then drained well and arranged in a broad shallow serving dish, each layer lightly dressed with salt, pepper, olive oil, red wine vinegar and torn mint leaves.  That’s the dish–the longer it sits, the more the flavors meld.  Make it at least a couple of hours ahead and let it rest at room temperature until dinner–it’s delicate but bright and astringent.

Zia Lucia’s Zucchini Salad

serves 4

6 small zucchini (approximately 7″ – 8″ long)

24 mint leaves

6 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

4 tbls red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Slice zucchini lengthwise on mandoline.

Blanch in boiling well-salted water for about 5 – 7 minutes or until tender but still bright green.  Drain in strainer.

Arrange layers of zucchini slices in broad, shallow serving dish.  Top each layer with salt, pepper, mint, oil and a drizzle of vinegar.

Allow to rest at least a couple of hours prior to dining.

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