This is my most recent iteration on a dish I always come back to for tweaking. I first tried a similar appetizer at Basi Italia in Columbus, a charming Italian restaurant in a former Victorian home and its garden, right down the street from my old apartment (when I was on only my second date with my now husband!) This very lightly cooked zucchini preparation is perfect for a fresh summer yield. Enjoy! —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
extra virgin olive oil
white wine or rice wine vinegar
red chili flakes
fresh thyme leaves (from about 5 good sprigs)
smoked almonds, roughly chopped
shaved pecorino from a large wedge, enough to cover the surface of your dish (or zucchini mound)
Place your matchsticks of zucchini into a medium bowl. For my matchsticks, I just trim the ends of the zucchini and cut it into 4 planks lengthwise, then turn 90 degrees and cut into 4-5 more planks to make sticks. Then I cut the sticks down to about 1 inch sizes.
Place the oil, vinegar, salt, black pepper, red pepper flake and fennel seed in a small saucepan and bring to a quick simmer over medium-high heat, stirring just until the salt dissolves. Add the thyme leaves and let heat through about 30 seconds (don't get too close to check for fragrance here, unless you want a vinegar facial/sinus treatment). Remove from heat and immediately pour over the zucchini.
Let the zucchini sit and marinate for 30 minutes, then add the chopped smoked almonds.
Preheat the broiler to high with a rack in the middle of the oven. Using a vegetable peeler or a cheese slicer, produce the widest, thinnest shavings of pecorino you can muster. If you have mixed the zucchini in an oven proof vessel, you can drape the pecorino slices directly across the top to cover the whole surface. Alternatively, you can turn out your marinated zucchini onto a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and make a mound, then drape pecorino over this to cover.
Place the cheese draped zucchini on the middle rack under the broiler and watch constantly, removing just when the cheese starts to melt - this can go very quickly (hence the name Pronto!) Remove, let cool slightly, and enjoy