Zucchini cut into thin tagliatelle, lightly sautéed, and folded into a pile of baby spinach is more than just a beautiful green feast for the eyes. It’s the taste of summer and winter merged on a plate. The soft flesh of the jade-colored summer squash brings a distinct fruity note. It’s sweet and mild, but against all odds, it can stand up to the comparatively hearty spinach. Baby spinach is not as bitter as the thicker winter leaves; it’s rather tender, but you can still taste a hint of soil. Slightly earthy, the leaves are a welcome contrast to the juicy zucchini.
Colorful cherry tomatoes and toasted pine nuts hint at a late summer dish and the fresh oregano sprinkled on top makes it very clear that we’re not yet into the cold season. Oregano can be replaced with milder marjoram, which is less pungent and more pleasant if you find oregano too harsh. I like both and tend to follow my mood—and the state of my plants.
The vinaigrette is light and citrusy. Using lime instead of lemon introduces a more flowery aroma, and the fruit’s juice and zest, mixed with white balsamic vinegar, adds the right sour touch to round out this colorful salad.
In a large, heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the zucchini in batches: Arrange a few zucchini slices next to each other in the pan and cook for 1 minute. Flip the slices over, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for another 30 seconds or until soft and golden but not dark. Transfer to a plate and continue cooking the remaining slices, adding a little splash of olive oil before each batch.
Toss together the sautéed zucchini, spinach, and tomatoes on a large, deep plate.
For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime zest and juice, and the sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad, garnish with the pine nuts and oregano, and serve immediately.
This recipe excerpted from Eat in My Kitchen (Prestel, 2016). Reproduced with permission.