Zucchini salad with avocado, and pepita parsley gremolata is a refreshing salad that can be a meal of its own.
You can do magic with an everyday vegetable peeler. In this instance of this recipe, you can turn a simple zucchini into beautiful ribbons. Those ribbons are coated with creamy lemon parsley dressing with a hint of jalapeno.
Furthermore, by adding to it sweet pepitas chopped with parsley and lime zest, this impressive dish is refreshing, and full of flavor.
For a dramatic presentation, plate it as a pasta dish with layers of gremolata and cheese. Rather an impressive presentation for your family and guests. Furthermore, a perfect dish to bring to a potluck anytime.
Want more heat? Add some of the seeds of the jalapeno to the dressing.
What is Pepita?
Pepitas are pumpkin seeds that are harvested from specific hull-less pumpkin varieties also known as Styrian or Oil Seed pumpkins.
A great source of healthy fats and fatty acids, consequently, those seeds make for a healthy snack.
The pepita seeds are flat and oval in shape with a white husk and are light green in color after the husk is removed.
Pepitas come from the Spanish which means “little seeds of squash”.
What is Gremolata?
Gremolata is a green sauce made primarily of parsley, lemon, and garlic. Rather easy to prepare, hence uplifting numerous varieties of dishes. Of course, you can interchange the parsley with cilantro if you wish. Different tastes and cilantro are more suited for southwest cooking.
Gremolata is typically used over meats such as Osso Buco, or with green beans.
If you do not have agave syrup on hand, honey will be the perfect substitute.
When returning the pepitas with the agave to the stove, first of all, make sure they do not burn. Secondly, make sure you do not burn. They will be sticky as well.
You can replace the parchment with a Silpat. Although a bit easier to separate the candied pepitas when you are ready to chop them.
Lemon can replace the lime, same fantastic taste.
Add some of the seeds of the jalapeno if you like the heat.
Use all the same size zucchini for a more uniform dish. However, the smaller the zucchini, the tastier. At least in my book.
Ricotta Salata is my choice with this salad. It gives a great balance flavor against the sweetness of the pepitas. However, any sheep milk cheese such as Manchego would be a great replacement.
Suggested dishes that will go well with this recipe:
In a small food processor, finely chop the jalapeno, scallions, and garlic. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. Add the avocado, lime juice, salt, pepper, olive oil, and ¼ cup water, and blend until smooth and creamy. Add more lemon juice if the mixture is too thick.
In a medium bowl combine the agave nectar and the salt. Over medium-low heat, heat a medium skillet. Add the pepitas and toast stirring frequently as not to burn. Once golden brown and some start to brown in spots, 4 to 5 minutes, remove from the heat and transfer them to the agave salt mixture. Toss to coat working quickly.
Return the pepitas to the skillet, use a spatula to remove them from the sides of the bowl as they will stick to it. Toast again until just starting to brown, about 40 seconds. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool completely.
Once cooled remove them from the parchment with the back of a knife and place them on a cutting board. Coarsely chop the pepitas and gather them in a mound in the center of the board. Sprinkle the parsley and lime zest over the top and continue chopping. It will be sticky, continue chopping and breaking the pepitas into a fine coarsen mixture.
Place the zucchini ribbons in a large bowl and combine with about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the dressing, adding them a little at a time. Use your hands to separate the ribbons and evenly coat the ribbons. Add 1 tablespoon of the gremolata and freshly grated ricotta Salata over the top of the zucchini. Toss the ribbons again to evenly coat. Season with salt and pepper and add more dressing if desired.
Using thongs transfer to a shallow serving dish the zucchini ribbons. Layer over it more gremolata and cheese. Repeat a couple more layers of zucchini, gremolata, and cheese, making sure you have some left for the top layer. Serve immediately.