Today I’m going to show you my favourite zucchini recipe, which is the creation of the wonderful chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Zucchini are cheap when in season, and can be grown locally in most parts of northern Europe and other temperate climates. Make sure you check-out your local green grocers or farmer’s market for fresh zucchini, we have found that seasonal vegetables are often cheaper here than in supermarkets.
The best way to eat well, have a low impact on the environment and save money is to make simple meals; dishes with few ingredients that are unpackaged, unprocessed and local. However, it is not always easy to make a dish with 3 main ingredients taste interesting. This simple meal ticks all the boxes: it is delicious, takes 15 minutes to make, requires only three main ingredients, one of which you can grow at home, and makes use of a cheap British summer vegetable. So it is no wonder that this genius recipe was invented by the famous Ottolenghi for his vegetarian cookbook, Plenty.
Zucchini shouldn’t be too difficult to source locally in the summer, you can grow basil yourself and hazelnuts are commercially grown in Europe and the US, with the majority of world production coming from Turkey. I think the parmesan in this dish really ties it together, but you can opt for a cheaper alternative or leave it out altogether if you wish.
Serves 2 as a main
Approximately £1.70 for two servings (not including parmesan, basil, oil & vinegar)
3 medium-sized zucchini
small handful whole hazelnuts (unblanched)
handful basil (we used a combination of red and miniature basil)
olive oil and balsamic vinegar
hazelnut oil (optional)
Preheat the oven to 150 °C, spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast for 12-15 minutes until browned. Alternatively if you don’t have an oven or would like to save energy, you can toast the hazelnuts later by tossing them in the frying pan with the zucchini.
In the meantime slice the zucchini diagonally into approximately 1cm wide slices, try to be consistent so they cook evenly
Place a dry grill pan on the stove on high and make sure it properly heats up for at least 5 minutes, it needs to be searing hot. If you don’t have a grill pan, a normal non-stick frying pan will do just fine.
Pour 2 table spoons of olive oil into a large bowl and toss the zucchini slices in the oil
When the pan is hot enough, place the zucchini slices in the pan, fry for 2 minutes on each side and put them back in the bowl when they are done
Drizzle with a teaspoon balsamic vinegar, add a handful basil leaves (we used red and miniature basil, which has a more intense flavour)
Roughly chop the hazelnuts and add to the bowl
Serve on a flat dish, adding parmesan shavings and a teaspoon or two of hazelnut oil if you’re feeling indulgent
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook.