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How to Eat All That Zucchini? A Newfangled, Totally Genius Caesar Salad

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Caesar purists, stay calm. This salad from the historic Blackberry Farm resort in Walland, Tennessee has plenty in common with the classic you know and love—both in key ingredients and in feisty-bright-creamy-garlicky experience—but it also diverges, quite a lot.

We’re still going to call it Caesar, and it’s so good you should make it even if we called it Chuck.

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Blackberry Farm's Zucchini Caesar Salad with Cheese Crisps
Blackberry Farm's Zucchini Caesar Salad with Cheese Crisps

Because brawny Caesar ingredients like lemon, garlic, and Worcestershire inevitably still zing through (how could they not?), but are softened with the addition of Green Goddess-style freshness (in tarragon, chives, and lemon zest).

And while the ingredient list may look longer than your average Caesar, everything fluffs together near-instantly in a food processor, spinning into a smooth, creamy-green elixir, ready to pour on anything you choose.

But in particular: You are to pour it on zoodles—a.k.a. raw matchsticks of zucchini that resemble, arguably, a noodle. While the watery green crunch of Romaine lettuce (and celery, if you’re my dad) has always been an excellent foil for a creamy, pushy dressing, so too is the zoodle.

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It’s fresh in a more subdued way, with a pale resilience, and substantial enough to be lunch. Just a thin blanket of dressing is enough to find yourself eating a whole lot of zucchini, which is handy because that seems to be how zucchini comes.

The last flourish is a cheese crisp, or frico—and the one step that makes this not a completely no-heat recipe. But I don’t recommend skipping it, no matter how sweaty you feel.

Because for the effort of grating cheese in piles and baking it for 5 minutes, you get the fanciest-looking and most addictive of garnishes: its salty, lacy bite snipping and snapping against the glossy, soft, and bouncy salad. Caesar purists, have I swayed you to the dark side yet?

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Blackberry Farm's Zucchini Caesar Salad with Cheese Crisps

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Serves 6 to 8

Caesar dressing:

  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Toscano, Singing Brook, or Ossau-Iraty cheese (1 ounce)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil, like grapeseed
  • 2 tablespoons lightly packed fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Cheese crisps and salad:

  • 3/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Toscano, Singing Brook, or Ossau-Iraty cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
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Photos by Julia Gartland

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].