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A perfect fall lunch combines zucchini and peaches, preferably local because they have so much more flavour than the imported varieties. Zucchini, which has a natural sweetness, marries well with peaches or watermelon or strawberries partly because, botanically, it is a fruit, although usually treated as a vegetable.
In the new cookbook Zucchini Love (Storey/Hachette, $19.99), U.S. food writer, cooking teacher and TV producer Cynthia Graubart grills zucchini and peaches and serves them on arugula.
Mushrooms are another good partner to zucchini; the book’s 43 recipes include mushrooms in both a salad and a tart. Another lunch dish is made by topping partly cooked zucchini halves with a mixture of seasoned ground chicken and bread crumbs and baking these “boats” for a half-hour.
Whether to salt the cut sides of zucchini is subject for a debate; if you are frying the vegetable, delectable with grilled meats, salting and draining strips of zucchini before frying gives a nippy, semi-sweet effect.
Grilled Zucchini and Peach Salad
2 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
2 ripe peaches
5 ounces (5 packed cups) arugula
¼ cup (60 mL) fresh mint, finely chopped
½ cup (125 mL/75 g) crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons (30 mL) balsamic reduction*
*To make, heat 1/2 cup (125 mL) balsamic vinegar over low heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons (30 mL), then cool.
Cut zucchini lengthwise into four slices. Brush cut sides with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Peel and halve peaches, discarding stones.
Heat grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat. Place zucchini slices and peach halves cut side down on grill and cook, in batches if necessary, until zucchini is soft and peaches show grill marks.
Divide arugula between four plates. Place two slices of zucchini, grilled side up, crossed, in the centre of each plate. Place a peach half, grilled side up, on each serving.
Sprinkle with mint and feta. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve.
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