The difference between cooked and raw vegetables is sometimes startling. This is the case with zucchini and summer squash as cooked they taste dramatically different than they do raw. When served raw, as they are in this salad, the flavor is so light. The key to this recipe is to cut each paper-thin by using a vegetable peeler. This salad is refreshing as a meal or a side and it pairs well with just about anything coming off your grill this summer.
For this particular salad, I add in raw asparagus as well, but feel free to skip if you don’t like asparagus. If you do include it, when using the vegetable peeler to shave off long pieces of the asparagus, discard the top and bottom peel as it’s almost all skin and it’s bitter, adding an unwelcome flavor to the entire dish.
This salad is beautiful and elevates any meal to something special! Most people won’t take the extra time to peel zucchini and squash in this way so it’s a touch that comes across as extra special.
Raw Zucchini and Squash Salad with Asiago Cheese and Pistachios
- 1 zucchini
- 1 yellow squash
- 3 stalks of THICK asparagus (optional and don't even attempt with thin asparagus – trust me!)
- 1/4 cup grated or shaved asiago cheese
- 1/4 cup salted pistachio nuts
- Olive oil
- Reduced balsamic vinaigrette
- Mint, basil, cilantro (any or all for extra flavor and garnish)
- Use a vegetable peeler and peel both squashes until you get to the mostly-seed center part of the vegetable. At that point, turn the squash to keep peeling. Don't peel the very-seedy part as it can weigh the salad down.
- When both squashes are complete, peel the asparagus. Discard the outer peel as it will be too bitter for the salad. Also, for asparagus, use your hands to break the bottom off the asparagus stalk. It should easily give when bent and naturally break at the proper place. Otherwise, simply guess and cut off the bottom 2 inches of all stalks.
- Next, take the pistachios and add them to a small sealed bag. Pound on them with a spoon or rolling pin to break them into tiny pieces.
- Pile the vegetables onto a platter and then sprinkle the nuts on top.
- Add the grated asiago cheese and salt and pepper.
- Drizzle olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar across the top and toss.
- Serve immediately.
You can play with this salad and add thinly sliced peaches, or add chickpeas or green peas, too, but the base is solid on its own and, once made, is sure to make appearances at many future meals!
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