Zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables out there. I am a huge fan of zucchini and love to incorporate it in many of my recipes in various ways, whether going low-carb with zucchini noodles or adding it to a healthier dessert. However, I have never really enjoyed it alone – raw and without many other ingredients, the vegetable seems a bit bland. This all changed one night when I was dining in Spain. A friend and I were in a small, humble restaurant on the island of Mallorca where we ordered zucchini carpaccio, which turned out to be very simple but one of the most delicious vegetable dishes I ever tasted.
Carpaccio is an Italian dish that is made from thinly sliced raw meat or fish and typically dressed with olive oil, lemon, and Parmesan cheese. Although it is a common appetizer in the Mediterranean region, it is not as well known in the US. This vegetarian version of the dish was surprisingly amazing and as soon I took a bite, I knew I would have to recreate it at home. I wasn’t exactly sure what the ingredients were but I remembered the restaurant used a type of pesto that gave it a wonderful tangy flavor as well as arugula for some bitterness.
This elegant appetizer is perfect for the summer since it is light, refreshing, and flavorful. Make sure to pour plenty of extra virgin olive oil for a subtle, fruity flavor but also to obtain its numerous health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, a dietary pattern in the Mediterranean region that has been associated with lower risk of heart disease.
- 1 zucchini
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp pesto
- 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper
- Thinly slice zucchini with a sharp knife or with a mandolin cutter. Arrange slices to be flat on a plate.
- Drizzle olive oil evenly on the zucchini slices.
- Sprinkle lemon juice evenly on top.
- Spread pesto on zucchini slices.
- Top with chopped walnuts.
- Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Let sit 15 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
Before the summer comes to an end, I have a pretty peach pie recipe for you all. This summer, I was subletting an apartment in Georgetown, without many of my cooking/baking supplies. I still managed to cook a lot but never had the chance to bake, without necessities like flour, sugar, etc. Now that I’m back home for a bit, I immediately baked a fruit pie because, well, it’s summer!
When I think of summer, I think of peaches. At the farmers’ market, the smell of peaches is so aromatic and enticing that I always end up buying them. They are always juicy and delicious; I don’t think I could ever get sick of them! In the past, I’ve made individual peach crumbles that are perfect to share with a few friends. Since we recently had a bunch of family friends over, I thought I’d try a peach pie this time.
Our family friend Ernie loves to cook and knows almost everything about cooking. I’m seriously surprised he’s not a chef. Whenever I’m home for break, he comes over with giant coolers full of supplies and my family and him cook together. Each time there is a different theme – we’ve had a pizza night where we learned how to make thin crust pizza, doughy pizza, pizza baked in the oven, and pizza baked in the grill. Another time we made different types of breads like French baguettes. This time, our theme was pies and burgers.
Ernie shook his head when he saw that we had bought ready-made pie crusts in a box and immediately taught me a flawless pie crust recipe instead. The recipe is actually so simple and makes all the difference in the end; I think I’ve almost been converted to homemade crusts. Of course, college students don’t always have the time for homemade crusts so if you use store-bought crusts I won’t judge 😛
The pie turned out so beautiful in the end that I was reluctant to cut into it. But when I tasted the pie, I quickly forgot about its appearance. The peaches were so soft and juicy, while the crust was flaky and buttery – the perfect contrast. I know most people take off the skin of their fruits when baking them in pies but I left the peach skin on and it actually gave the pie a little bit more texture.
SUMMER PEACH PIE
Crust (makes 1)
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed6 tbsp cold water
1 egg white
dash of salt
6-7 yellow peaches
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp flour1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
(this is for 1 crust – I made two crusts separately but you could also double the ingredients to make both at once)
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Mix together with a pastry blender. (If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use two butter knives, one in each hand, and slice the dough with both knives in an x shape.) Mix until small pea-sized balls of dough form.
Sprinkle two tablespoons of cold water in and then mix with a fork or wooden spoon. Repeat two more times.
Using your hands, form the dough into a ball. You should see tiny chunks of butter in it, which is a good sign. Press the dough on a surface so into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap.
Place in fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut peaches into slices and mix with lemon juice, sugar, and flour. Set aside.
Take out one pie crust and roll on a lightly floured surface and place in a 10-inch pie plate. Add 1/3 of the peach mix. Sprinkle 1/2 tbsp of cinnamon. Sprinkle on 1 tbsp of flour. Repeat with another 1/3 of the peach mix and then the other 1/3.
Roll out the other pie crust and cover over the plate. Trim off excess crust and pinch the two crusts together to form a seam. Cut a few slits on the top and brush a beaten egg white on top.
Sprinkle granulated sugar and cinnamon on top.
Bake for approximately 1 hour, until bubbly.
Now that it’s summer, the warm weather and additional free time make it more appealing for me to get up early on Saturday mornings and walk to the farmers’ market. Every time I go, I have a blast buying fresh produce, nibbling on some treats for breakfast, and “window-shopping” through all the stands. Of the various items I bought last week were a carton of fresh strawberries. They were tiny, round little berries unlike the ones in grocery stores – just like they should be.
Feeling in a creative mood, I made Nutella pizza. Nutella, pizza, and fruit…how could that combination possibly go wrong? It ended up tasting more like a flat bread, probably because I had baked the dough first without the toppings. My friend Sydney had made the pizza dough for a little pizza party we had. Making homemade pizza with friends is always fun. Roll some dough, buy some toppings, and everyone can make their own personalized pizza, or one giant one to share!
This weekend, I’ll be moving to Georgetown for the summer since I’ll be working just outside of DC. I love the Georgetown area because of all the shops and restaurants and the neighborhood is beautiful. Hopefully there will be a farmers’ market close to me while I’m there!
NUTELLA STRAWBERRY PIZZA
1/4 cup Nutella
Handful of strawberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Take out leftover pizza dough or store-bought pizza dough. If you don’t have any, here is a simple recipe.
Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into the shape of a circle, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
Bake in oven for about 10-15 minutes.
Spread as much Nutella as desired in the center and arrange sliced strawberries on top.