Sunday, 28 August 2011

Zucchini Salad With Olives, Artichokes, Red Pepper, and Red Onion

Marinated Zucchini Salad with Olives, Artichokes, Red Pepper, and Red Onion
4-5 small zucchini, cut into half moon slices about 1/2 inch thick (or bite sized pieces)
1 can large pitted black olives, drained very well
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained very well
1 red or green pepper chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 red onion chopped into bite-sized pieces

Dressing:
1 cup Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing
(or your favorite Italian dressing with no sugar)
juice of half lemon (2 T)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano cheese
1 T dried basil (or use 2 T basil pesto or 3 T. chopped fresh basil)
1 tsp. dried oregano
Optional: additional 1/4 cup grated parmesan to sprinkle over salad just before serving

Cut zucchini into quarter slices or bite sized pieces. (If you're using large zucchini, cut away the seeds and most of the white part.) Steam zucchini until barely tender/crisp, about 3 minutes, then drain very well. (You can plunge the steamed zucchini into water with ice cubes to stop the cooking if you're in a hurry, but I don't always do that.)

While zucchini is cooking, open olives and artichoke hearts and dump into a colander to drain well. (Draining the zucchini and olives well is essential or the finished salad will be watery.) Chop the red bell pepper and red onion into bite-sized pieces.

Combine zucchini, olives, artichoke hearts, red pepper and red onion in plastic or glass container with a lid (or use a Ziploc bag.) Pour dressing over, just enough to cover veggies, and stir gently. (I usually only use part of the dressing to marinate the veggies and then stir in a little more dressing when I serve it.)

Marinate in refrigerator 4-8 hours. If you can turn it over once in a while to keep the vegetables covered with dressing that would be great, but it's not essential. Just before serving stir in a little of the reserved dressing. Sprinkle the salad with more freshly grated Parmesan cheese when serving if desired.

At the risk of sounding like a cheese snob, let me say that this is best with freshly grated cheese. I like to grate it on the large side of the grater for the final 1/4 cup and serve the salad with the grated cheese not mixed in. However if all you have is pre-grated Parmesan, not to worry. It will still be yummy.

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