For the past birthdays and Christmases, my mom has been getting me cookbooks. This year, my mom got me Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi for my birthday. Thanks, mommy!

I am sick at home and wanted something easy to make. I feel very blessed to have so many generous co-workers who share their spring and summer bounty with me. Terry gave us two pounds of gorgeous and plump asparagus, which we ate in the form of shaved asparagus, and steamed with fried egg.

This past week, my co-worker Patti gifted me with a beautiful bag of large-leafed, plump basil, and a gorgeous mix of greens including green and red leaf lettuces and Tuscan kale. Oh, and spring onions, too! My boss got a mix of lettuces from another co-worker, and we have dubbed these kindly folks our farmer fairies. Sounds about right.

My first instinct when Patti handed me the lovely basil was to buy tomato and mozzarella to eat with our lovely extra-virgin olive oil from Los Olivos, CA, but my second thought was to try to use up what we had.  I remembered that we have a stockpile of hazelnuts from Costco in the freezer, as well as zucchini that needed to be used up. Aha, Yotam, thanks for saving the day!

The combination of the semi-licoricey basil, toasty hazelnuts, and juicy zucchini…is quite something. What a great way to use up lots of basil!

Zucchini and hazelnut salad

adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi
serves 1 generously

1-2 Tbsp hazelnuts
1 medium zucchini
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
a splash of balsamic vinegar
3 cups mixed greens, washed and torn
1/2 cup Italian basil leaves, whole
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil or 1/2 tsp hazelnut oil
1/4 avocado, sliced, or a few shavings of Parmesan cheese

1) Toast hazelnuts at 300F until fragrant, about 10-15 minutes. Let these cool, then use a mallet or underside of a small, clean, cast iron skillet to break into coarse pieces.

2) Slice zucchini on the diagonal into 1/4″-3/8″ pieces, then brush both sides with a thin layer of oil. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Lay flat on a baking sheet and broil until the zucchini is browned. If you can, grill the zucchini until the grill marks are nice and brown.

3) Toss the zucchini with balsamic vinegar.

4) When the zucchini is cooled, gently mix together with the greens, basil, and hazelnuts.

5) Season with extra virgin olive oil, or hazelnut oil, and some salt and pepper. Lay the avocado or Parmesan on top.

zucchini hazelnut salad

-I used avocado because I didn’t have Parmesan, but the nuttiness and saltiness of Parmesan would go great with this!
-Really, the amounts can be played with. Don’t have greens? Use all basil (like Yotam). Don’t have that much basil? Use mostly greens. I’m sure yellow squash can be used in place of zucchini here, too.
-Try walnuts and walnut oil for a more economical choice to hazelnuts and hazelnut oil.