On my last trip to Barcelona, I had one of the most amazing zucchini salads. A zucchini ribbon salad to be exact. Imagine this: thin ribbons of fresh zucchini carefully tossed with sweet sun-dried tomatoes, toasted sliced almonds, a hint of garlic, shaved parmesan, AND truffle oil. Simply amazing!
First of all, ribbons of anything instantly transform a salad into something special. Adding truffle oil to the mix…and it’s instantly decadent.
So a word about truffle oil. I was told that in order to avoid disappointment, when you are shopping for truffle oil, you should always choose one that uses olive oil and has a tiny bit of real truffle in it. Apparently, this is what separates great from ordinary. So check the label and it’s contents. There are a number of inexpensive cheap imitations out there that may leave wondering what happened to that incredible dining experience you were expecting. Good news is, you can also make your own. But first you may want to consider the differences between black and white truffles.
Using Black Truffle Oil vs. White Truffle Oil
BLACK: has a more robust earthy flavor and pairs well with stronger, more intense flavors; things like hearty meat dishes, wild mushrooms dishes, or heavy sauces with some depth.
WHITE: is more subtle and has a slightly garlicky and peppery mushroom flavor and pairs well with cream sauces, white fish, shellfish and types of meat with a more delicate flavor.
More neutral tasting foods such as pasta, potatoes, risotto, and cheese be enhanced with either black or white truffle oil — it’s largely a question of personal taste!
Whether you choose black or white truffle oil, just remember truffle oil should only be added to cooked dishes or sauces after preparation, otherwise, high heat will negatively impact the flavor — the whole reason you are using it in the first place. For the best flavor, less is definitely more when it comes using truffle oil, so drizzle rather than pour. :-)
Zucchini ribbons are simple to create. All you need is a vegetable peeler or mandoline. Start by cutting off the ends of your zucchini then use your peeler or mandoline to carefully slice the zucchini lengthwise into long, thin, ribbon-like strips. It’s that easy! Of course, if you want to put your spiralizer to good use, you could all serve this up as a zucchini noodle salad.
Zucchini Ribbon & Truffle Oil Salad
Serves 4, as a side
2 medium zucchini, cut into thin lengthwise ribbons (using a vegetable peeler or mandoline slicer)
5-6 oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted (plus more for garnish)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
chunk of parmesan, for shaving
3-4 teaspoons white or *black truffle oil, drizzled (*use black truffle oil if you prefer a more robust aroma and deeper flavor complexity)
1. Place zucchini ribbons in a medium bowl. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and almonds; season lightly with sea salt and generously with freshly ground black pepper. Toss gently to combine.
2. Arrange a mound on 4 individual salad plates. Drizzle each salad with truffle oil. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin curls of parmesan over the salad. Sprinkle with a few more almond slices. Serve immediately.