It feels such a luxury to be back in Melbourne and to be totally spoiled for choice with ingredients. Fresh and vibrant produce, cheeses, spices and meats. So good.
My step mother, Betsy, is always an inspiration with food, and we cooked this dish together a few weeks ago. I’m not one to normally be amazed by zucchini, but this dish is something else. We ate it alone as a first course. It is also something that would go well alongside a simple cooked meat, perhaps something on the barbecue or chargrill pan given you have already fired it up.
The original recipe is below, and it is from one of the ‘it’ Melbourne chefs, Andrew McConnell. I would dine at his restaurant, but I am not so interested in a three hour wait. I add a bit more pine nut and currant, but other than that I pretty much stayed on track. I made double quantity, because I figure it keeps well for the next day’s lunch.
You will need zucchini, lemon, currants, pine nuts, fetta, mint, sumac spice, olive oil and a little salt.
First I turned on the barbecue to get it warmed up.
Then I soaked the currants in some warm water, and toasted the pine nuts in a dry pan.
I zested a lemon, and sliced up four medium zucchini. I didn’t see any baby zucchini, like the recipe calls for, so I left them out.
Into a bowl I poured a few good glugs of olive oil, added a big pinch of salt, and squeezed the juice of a lemon. And then gently tossed the zucchini through it.
I laid each piece of zucchini on the heated grill in batches, and let it cook until it had nice stripes, and some charcoal flavour, but was still firm. You want it to maintain a bit of crunch. I reserved the liquid left in the bowl for the dressing.
To the reserved oil mixture I added the lemon zest, drained currants and pine nuts. If you need more oil at this stage, by all means add some.
I gently tossed the cooked zucchini through, and then placed it on a serving plate. I finished it off by crumbling over it some sheep’s milk fetta, roughly torn mint leaves and a smattering of sumac spice.
This is almost too good. For me, zucchini has never known these heights.
Nice to be back to our regular format again… and so with that, over to you B!
GRILLED ZUCCHINI WITH PINE NUTS, CURRANTS AND FETTA
Original recipe from the book Cumulus Inc. by Andrew McConnell
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 teaspoons currants
2 medium sized zucchini, topped and tailed and then cut lengthwise into 3mm slices (just over a tenth of an inch)
3 baby zucchini halved lengthwise
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
8 mint leaves, roughly torn
50g (2oz) fetta, preferably barrel-aged, crumbled
pinch of sumac
Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan until golden. Soak the currants in water for 10 minutes to rehydrate, then drain and pat dry.
Preheat a barbecue or chargrill pan. Gently toss the zucchini with the salt, the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Briefly grill the zucchini on the hot barbecue or chargrill pan for a moment on each side, just until they are lightly grill-marked and wilted without being cooked through.
To serve toss the zucchini with the lemon zest, pine nuts, currants and the remaining olive oil (I used the oil and lemon juice mix left from the zucchini bowl earlier). Arrange the zucchini on a platter and strew with the mint. Crumble the fetta cheese over and finish with a pinch of sumac.