Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grilled Zucchini Ribbons with Feta and Mint





Zucchini is one of my favourite vegetables. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it's not really a vegetable. Botanically speaking it's actually a fruit, the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower. No kidding. This remarkable 'fruit' can be steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed, baked, barbequed, fried, baked into a bread, incorporated in a soufflé, shredded for fritters or battered as tempura. In short, the zucchini (or courgette) is an amazingly versatile little thing, plus it's low in calories. Let's not forget the zucchini's delectable golden blossoms, prized by many as a culinary delicacy. 

The word zucchini comes from the italian zucchino which means small squash. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the small green zucchini is probably the best known and most popular of the summer squashes. Zucchini has a natural sweetness when its cooked, making it an obliging ingredient in both savoury and sweet dishes. Grilled Zucchini Ribbons with Feta and Mint is one of my favourite summer recipes, and is delicious and easy to make. It's also tasty with crumbled goat cheese, fresh basil and kalamata olives, which can also be used as a stuffing for Grilled Zucchini Rolls.




Grilled Zucchini Ribbons with Feta and Mint
Serves 4-6

2 medium green zucchini
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh mint

Using a mandoline, or sharp knife, slice zucchini lengthwise into thin strips, about 1/8" thick, discarding ends. Brush the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill on a pre-heated BBQ or ridged cast iron skillet, about 2-3 minutes per side, until each of the slices are tender and lightly grill marked. Remove zucchini from the grill and onto a decorative serving platter and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature, and garnish with crumbled feta and mint leaves.





Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Goat Cheese, Basil and Olives
Serves 4-6

2 medium green zucchini
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil, washed and chopped
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, finely chopped

Using a mandoline, or sharp knife, slice zucchini lengthwise into thin strips, about 1/8" thick, discarding ends. Brush the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill on a pre-heated BBQ or ridged cast iron skillet, about 2-3 minutes per side, until each of the slices are tender and lightly grill marked. Remove zucchini from the grill and place on a cooling rack. In a medium bowl, combine goat cheese, olives and basil and mix until blended. Spread a layer of the goat cheese mixture onto one side of each zucchini slice, and gently roll each piece, placing it seam side down. These make a tasty appetizer, a light lunch with a red pepper coulis and salad, or a lovely side dish for a grilled entrée.