Pg. 72 New Zucch.

Photo by Donna, from Live to Cook

Yes, you can fry zucchini as fritters and anything fried trumps anything raw, but try this simple salad of raw zucchini with almonds and you'll be amazed by the power of zucchini. Now, when Zucchini is plentiful and inexpensive, is the time to make it.

I first had this salad when we were working on Michael Symon's new book, Live To Cook. What's always impressed me about Michael's cooking is his ingenuity; he delivers powerful flavors and fun dishes with a minimum of fuss yet without sacrificing basic technique.

The key to this salad is pre-salting the zucchini. Cut it on the bias into 1/8th-inch slices, give it the salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. The salt softens it to the point of wilting, but not so much that it's mushy. It retains a distinct bite and fresh zucchini flavor. It's important though not to salt it too early; eventually the zucchini will get mushy. I dress raw zucchini simply, squeezing lemon juice over it and a drizzle of olive oil. I usually combine it with almonds, a perfect flavor pairing and adds an important crunchy component. It's easy to improvise once you've discovered the zucchini's transformation by salt from bland to exquisite.

Below is Michael's recipe from his book (due out in a few weeks!), in which he adds garlic, shallot and dill. When he made the above dish we couldn't stop eating it; it was really satisfyingly filling, with great flavors and textures. I love to cook and spend hours in the kitchen, but this is a perfect example of how vivid fresh delicious dishes without compromise are every bit as good as the dishes that take a long time.

Michael Symon's Zucchini Crudo

2 zucchini (about ¾ pound), thinly sliced
2 yellow summer squash (about 1½ pounds), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 shallot, finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 3 lemons, or to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄3 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
1⁄3 cup chopped fresh dill

Combine the zucchini and yellow squash in a colander in the sink and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the salt over it. Toss to coat, and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, no longer. In a large bowl, combine the garlic and shallot, sprinkle with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream, then the almonds and dill. Taste for seasoning and acidity (it should be nicely acidic). Add the zucchini and squash to the dressing, toss, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings