What is the one piece of kit that you can’t be without, not in general circumstances but if you are facing the seasonal challenge of a holiday in a rented house? The clichéd response is ‘a good knife’. But doesn’t it depend on the time of year and what you might, as a result, be cooking? When I packed for a week away in not-so-sunny Suffolk, I only included two bits of kitchen kit: my Kuhn-Rikon knife and my lemon zester. Surprisingly, it was the latter that proved to be the most essential: I used it to add zest to dressings, to a lemon and basil risotto and to this salad, my current obsession.
Raw courgettes may not be the most obvious salad ingredient but I have now made this for a Spaniard, three Italians, one Paris-based Irishman and my family and everyone, even a self-confessed, courgette-hating teenager, has loved it. Or at least, in the case of the teenager, eaten it without a murmur. I first tasted the original at Port Eliot, where Gioconda Scott, the chef at Trasierra in Andalucia, was whipping up her proper version with Manchego cheese. However, since I had Parmesan in my fridge I made it with that and now I can’t imagine it any other way. It is a brilliant holiday and summer salad because the ingredients are relatively easy to get hold of. Strangely herbs are not the easiest things to find in Southwold but, along with the zester, I had rather presciently brought Parmesan and basil with me so I scraped by…
I heartily recommend it to you: it is made in minutes, even with toasting a few flaked almonds, a teenager who has never made a salad before can knock it together, and it tastes just so summery and fresh that you will want to eat it every day. The amounts of each ingredient you will need will depend on your need for saltiness or freshness but, once you have made it once or twice (or, in my case, about ten times) you will be able to make it, and adjust it for taste, in your sleep. I am off to another rented house tomorrow, in France, and although my camera isn’t packed (too heavy for a Ryanair special) my zester is.
For a couple of people you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
flaked almonds, a tablespoon
courgettes, two (depending on the size or your hunger, you may need three)
Parmesan, about 50-75g
fresh basil leaves, a handful
1. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over a low heat until golden on both sides.
2. Whilst the almonds are toasting, wash or wipe the courgettes, top and tail them then slice each one into really thin discs.
3. Slice the Parmesan into thin flakes.
4. Zest the lemon, then juice one half.
5. Layer the courgettes, Parmesan, lemon zest and basil leaves in a bowl or on a large platter.
6. Dress the salad with lemon juice and a splash or two of olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper then scatter the almonds over the top.