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Raw and Charred Zucchini Salad

Before summer slips away, we’ve been trying to pack in some fun. This weekend Bryan’s parents were in town and we took a road trip up to Harbor County, Michigan. It was nice to get away for the day, walk on the beach, and enjoy the charming beach side towns that make up this stretch of southwest Michigan. One of my favorite Chicago restaurants, Pleasant House Bakery [1], has opened a second location in Three Oaks, a small town that has a surprising number of great things to see and do (and eat!). How many towns of 1600 people have a cinema [2] showing independent/art house films? We had a fantastic lunch at Pleasant House [3] (the beer they’re brewing at this location is really special) and we found a mirror we should have bought but didn’t at Ipso Facto [4] (such regret!). I also really liked AP [5] in Lakeside, which was recommended by a friend (thanks, Emily [6]!). The shop sells women’s clothing, but also some home goods. It is a beautifully designed little world that I was happy to spend time in. I picked up some linen tea towels. Ariane at AP recommended the Sawyer Garden Center [7] for some local fruit, and it turned out to be a great stop. We left with local peaches, plums and blueberries. As we drove back into the city and sat in the usual end-of-the-weekend traffic, I was scheming how best to make the most of these last few weeks of summer in the kitchen.

This salad is not a bad start. I found this recipe in a recent issue of Food & Wine. It is a bit fussier than I tend to like, but it was so delicious that I’ve decided it was worth it. It is also perfect if you have a bumper crop of zucchini to use up. It feels like late summer, and it is exactly what I want to be eating right now.

We don’t have a grill, so I put half of the zucchini under the broiler to char. You want to serve this salad soon after making it.

Raw and Charred Zucchini Salad (from Food & Wine [8])

Preheat the oven to 325°. On a baking sheet, toss the bread and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Bake for 20 minutes, until the bread is lightly golden; transfer to a bowl and crush.

In a microwave-safe bowl, cover the ancho with water and microwave for 1 minute. Let stand for 5 minutes. Scrape the ancho flesh from the skin and add to the bread with the pine nuts; mash until moist crumbs form. Season with salt and pepper.

Light a grill. Using a wide vegetable peeler, thinly slice one-third of the zucchini and summer squash into ribbons and refrigerate. Cut the rest into 1/4-inch rounds and transfer to a bowl; toss with 3 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until lightly charred, 5 minutes; return to the bowl. Add the ribbons, mint, parsley and tomatoes and toss.

In a bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice with the remaining oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the salad. Add the feta and toss again. Sprinkle with the pine nut crumbs. Serve.