Monday, July 14, 2014

Grilled Antipasto of Green and Yellow Zucchini with Black Olive-Lemon Vinaigrette

To me, there is nothing better than being able to go out into your backyard and pick vegetables from your own garden. It's like having a grocery store in your back yard. The next best thing when you don't have a garden (which I don't right now, other than some planter boxes of herbs and one potted cherry tomato), is to visit your local farmer's markets.

"Farmer's market season" lasts nearly year-round here in Georgia. This is how I plan meals for my husband and I: I pick which market to go to (we are lucky to have several in our area) and see what's in season. I buy whatever looks good and go from there. Easy enough, right?

This not only means that a large part of our meals are from local and usually organic produce/eggs/meat, but it gives me a starting point for what I'll make. When I have unlimited options I can get overwhelmed, so this method helps keep me (somewhat) grounded.

Fresh From the Farm sounded like the perfect cookbook for me - surely it would have recipes for some of my farmer's market favorites. I was thrilled to be able to check it out. To be honest, it wasn't what I expected. It was better! Not only are this book's recipes based on farm-fresh vegetables, they are organized by season: Spring, Summer, and late Summer/Fall. This book was like a dream come true for me.

It was so hard for me to pick a recipe, but I defaulted to my usual routine: On Sunday morning, I went to the farmer's market to see what was available. Zucchini and squash were in abundance and there was local goat cheese available. Problem solved. I would make the Grilled Antipasto of Green and Yellow Zucchini with Black Olive-Lemon Vinaigrette. It was a huge success - even my husband, who openly admits he eats most vegetables because "I feel like I should", loved it! The toppings were creamy (goat cheese), salty (olives), and nutty (pine nuts), but didn't overwhelm the charred zucchini base.

I did make a few adjustments: The goat cheese that I used was more creamy than crumbly, so I put dollops of it on top of the slices of zucchini rather than under it. The heat from the grilled zucchini warmed and softened it. I also used red wine vinegar because I didn't have sherry vinegar.

I've already made two other recipes from this book - Grill Roasted Fingerlings with Rosemary, Lemon, Sea Salt & Fresh Corn Vinaigrette (the vinaigrette is to die for!) and the Greek Island Grilled Bread, Tomato & Cucumber Salad.

I will definitely be cooking my way through this book as the year continues!

Grilled Antipasto of Green and Yellow Zucchini with Black Olive-Lemon Vinaigrette
by Jennifer
adapted from the recipe in Fresh From the Farm by Susie Middleton

6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt
2 medium green zucchini and 1 medium crookneck squash, ends trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into 3/8-inch slices
3 ounces fresh goat cheese
2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Start charcoal in grill and heat to about 400°F, or set gas grill to medium-high. While grill is heating, whisk together 3 Tablespoons of olive oil and next 5 ingredients (through honey). Season with salt to taste and set aside. Toss zucchini and squash slices with remaining olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt.

Grill oiled and salted zucchini and squash slices about 2 minutes per side (be careful - they will cook fast, especially if you have hot spots on your grill). Arrange cooked squash slices on a platter, slightly overlapping, and top each slice with dollops of goat cheese. Drizzle vinaigrette over the top and sprinkle on pine nuts and parsley.

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