Warm Zucchini Salad
Prep Time: 20 minutes if using jarred peppers. Closer to 45 minutes if you choose to roasted your own peppers.
Meal Notes: This is a winning potluck dish, with enough familiarity for comfort, but enough novelty and color to wow. It’s also a delicious, healthy accompaniment to otherwise heavy, not-so-healthy meals like pizza or pasta.
4 small zucchini
2 large roasted red peppers*
Handful of cherry tomatoes, red or yellow
8 oz package of mushrooms**
2 cloves garlic
1 small bunch basil
1 /4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Prep: Preheat broiler. Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Chop roasted red peppers in bite-size pieces. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Mince garlic. Roughly chop basil. Mince garlic. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and cut into thin slices, including the stems. Cover baking sheet with aluminium foil for easy clean-up.
Saute Mushrooms: Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add half of the garlic. Saute garlic until it softens (about a minute), then add the mushrooms. Saute mushrooms until they lose most of their moisture and are lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
Broil Zucchini: Place zucchini rounds on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with olive oil. Broil for 2-3 minutes on each side. Zucchini should retain a slight crunch.
Mix Salad: Remove zucchini from oven and place in a large salad bowl. Add basil and garlic, then pause, allowing the the zucchini to absorb these flavors. After a minute or so, add the peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Mix carefully to avoid mashing the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*Roasted red peppers: I use a store-bought jar of roasted red peppers for this recipe, which I highly recommend as the path of least resistance. The alternative is to roast fresh bell peppers.
If you choose to roast your own peppers, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and cut each pepper into 4-5 large pieces. Flatten pieces with the back of a knife and place them on a cookie sheet. Roast peppers in oven until skin is lightly charred (between 15 and 20 minutes). Then, place peppers straight from oven into Ziploc bag and seal for a few minutes. This will loosen the blackened skin of the pepper, so you can easily remove it with your fingers and use the roasted pepper.
**Sauteed mushrooms: Similar to the red peppers, you can speed prep time by using 1/2 of a store-bought jar of marinated mushrooms. That said, sauteing your own is fairly quick, less expensive, and I, personally, prefer the taste over jarred mushrooms.