Watch the pine nuts closely on their short route from ivory to golden brown. They burn in seconds and will be extremely bitter if they do.
There is no need to salt the zucchini. Place the strips flat on the griddle, then, when the underside is patchily gold and black, turn them over with a pair of kitchen tongs and cook the other side. They are best dressed while still warm, as the gentle heat teases out the flavor of the basil.
Tarragon and mint, chopped or torn, will introduce notes of aniseed and coolness to the dish if you use them with or instead of the basil. You could involve garlic if you like, either crushed into a paste and tossed with the raw zucchini, or roasted and mashed into the basil dressing. You could also bring in some ribbons of cooked pappardelle, folding them into the grilled zucchini and dressing.
Zucchini, Ricotta, and Pine Nuts
- 14 oz/400g zucchini
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- ½ cup/10g leaves basil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 9 oz/250g ricotta
- Using a vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini into long, wide ribbons, running the peeler down their length.
- Put the zucchini into a wide mixing bowl with ½ cup/60ml of oil and a grinding of sea salt and black pepper. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry, shallow pan till pale gold. Warm a ridged griddle pan, then add the zucchini and let them cook till they are golden and lightly blistered on both sides.
- Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a bowl, then shred the basil leaves and add them. Tip in the toasted pine nuts, add the lemon juice, and mix together.
- As the zucchini come from the grill, tip them into the basil and lemon dressing and toss gently to coat.
- Place a mound of fresh ricotta on each plate, then add the grilled ribbons of zucchini. Spoon the basil and pine nut dressing over the top and serve. I think some bruschetta would be good here.
Reprinted with permission from Greenfeast: Spring, Summer by Nigel Slater, copyright © 2021. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography copyright: Jonathan Lovekin © 2021