This post is a paid collaboration with Emmi USA. I’ve teamed up with them to bring you a warm zucchini salad that’s bursting with flavors and textures: lightly cooked zucchini mixed with toasted almonds, fresh parsley, and shaved gruyere, tossed with olive oil and lemon juice. This zucchini recipe is all about simple ingredients that produce spectacular results.
Sometimes I love getting a reminder that the best tasting recipes can involve just a few simple, high quality ingredients. On my first day at culinary school, we learned French onion soup, which really drove home this idea: caramelize onions in fat, add stock, season well, then serve with a big crouton and a pile of gruyere cheese. Broil and serve.
This warm zucchini salad reminds me of that soup, and not just because of the gruyere. The ingredients all work together to create a balance of light flavors and textures, the end result is greater than the sum of its parts.
You get a nice crunch and nutty flavor from the almonds, freshness from the parsley, sweetness and earthiness from the gruyere, a citrus pop from the lemon, and a subtle fruitiness and bitterness from the olive oil.
All of these elements are showcased in zucchini that’s just barely cooked, so you get a nice delicate crunch with each bite. If you like the texture of zucchini noodles, you can cook the vegetables a bit longer for a similar result.
I had previously used Emmi USA’s Le Gruyére AOP in my cheese fondue recipe, so this time I was curious to experiment with one of their other gruyere selections. I tried the Kaltbach since it’s sold at my local grocery store, and it was love at first bite.
Emmi USA describes the flavor profile of this cheese as having notes of spice, dried stone fruit, hazelnuts, and black tea. I would agree with all of that; this cheese has so much more depth than I normally taste in gruyere, and it’s a wonderful compliment to this salad. I’ve also been snacking on it with dried cherries or cranberries.
It’s more than a little addicting!
- I recommend using a fruity olive oil with this salad to really amp up the flavors. You can use a standard olive oil, but when you’re making such a simple recipe, the quality of each ingredient can make a huge difference. Olive oil is no exception.
- When you heat up the oil in the skillet, make sure that it’s shimmering and hot, but not smoking. Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than certain other oils (like grapeseed), and you don’t want it to burn.
- If you cut the zucchini evenly, they’ll cook evenly. A mandoline is a great way to accomplish this, if you have one.
- A flat-sided skillet (also known as a sautoir) is a great choice of cookware for this recipe since a lot of zucchini is being cooked at once. If you don’t have a larger skillet, a Dutch oven or saucepan will also work fine. The important thing is to leave the zucchini on the heat just briefly, so use a pan that will allow you to toss the ingredients around quickly.
- However, if you’re a fan of zucchini pasta, you can cook the ingredients for an additional minute to get more of a “zoodles” result.
Warm Zucchini Salad
- 3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds (sliced almonds may be substituted)
- 3 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
- 1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or more to taste
- 5 ounces Emmi USA’s Kaltbach Le Gruyére AOP, shaved (see notes)
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook, swirling the pan, until golden and fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the zucchini, tossing to coat with the olive oil and almonds. Cook for 60 seconds, stirring, until the zucchini is just barely warmed through and crisp-tender.
- Transfer the ingredients to a large bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons lemon juice along with the parsley, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning; add additional lemon juice, salt and pepper if needed.
- Divide onto salad plates and top with plenty of cheese. Serve immediately.
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