Zucchini Carpaccio

Move over leafy greens, you've got serious salad competition. This dish is a vegetarian (vegan!) play on beef carpaccio. Thin strips of zucchini are laid out and then dressed simply for a presentation that wows and a taste that is surprisingly full. When you get a whole ribbon of zucchini with a little bit of everything, you will be surprised at how much like a fully-dressed salad it tastes. Your guests will be surprised too because you will be making this for every dinner party, especially the ones where you need to impress someone.

When plating this dish, be creative and precise. You want to use a plate with some character and then play off of it by trimming the zucchini to a neat shape, be it square, rectangle, or circle. When sprinkling salt, aim to sprinkle it lightly but evenly. Don't dribble the oil and vinegar, try to dot the zucchini with it. Smaller, thinner slices of shallot look nicer and don't obscure the dish. The appearance should be abstract, but the execution requires precision and attention to detail. If you have them, tweezers and a pipette or eyedropper are a big help.

Yields anywhere from 2 to 8 servings, depending on how much of the zucchini you use.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small shallot
  • A few stalks of parsley
  • Best quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sherry or Balsamic vinegar
  • Small pinch red pepper flakes
  • Large flake sea salt such as Maldon

Instructions:

  1. Using a vegetable peeler (a Y-peeler works best) or mandoline, create paper-thin ribbons of zucchini. The first 6 or so won't be usable, you want the slices from the thickest parts of the zucchini because they'll be more uniform in size. Peel the shallot, halve it, and slice into paper thin half-moons. Pick the leaves from the parsley stems.
  2. Depending on your serving dish, how much the slices overlap is up to you. You don't want to overlap them more than halfway because they won't get seasoned well. Try to lay the ribbons in neat, parallel rows. If the dish is wide enough to lay out multiple columns, trim the abutting sides of each column neatly using a knife or bench scraper (something long and straight), then overlap one column very slightly over the other to give a neat appearance.
  3. Scatter the shallot over the zucchini, using as much or as little as you need to distribute it evenly but abstractly. Do the same with the parsley leaves. If the dish is small, tear the leaves in half.
  4. Dot the dish with olive oil, then again with vinegar. If you can manage to pour a very thin stream, a zig-zag of each is also nice. Sprinkle very lightly with red pepper flakes. Sprinkle with sea salt, choosing the largest crystals. At the end, crush the salt between your fingers to get a fine dust and sprinkle it all over just to ensure complete coverage with salt. Serve at room temperature.