This is one of my favorite ways to have summer squash and a fun way to preserve all the fun shapes it comes in. Eaten raw, zucchini and its siblings have some crispness to them and great flavor. Tossed with some fresh herbs and thin shavings of fennel and pecorino in some champagne citrus vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil, and this becomes a very refreshing, healthy tasting side dish / salad that becomes the star of the meal. You can serve as a large salad in a bowl or as a little timbale as shown in the picture for the first course of a fancier dinner. The dressing does a great job of holding the zucchini pieces together. - ChezSuzanne —TheWimpyVegetarian
Test Kitchen Notes
This is one my favorite kind of salads. I served it laid out on a platter and everyone got a bite of all the elements, which make this salad fabulous. The freshness of the fennel, basil and mint combines so well with the saltiness of the pecorino and the tartness of the lemon. Super easy to fix and impressive to serve. I served it with grilled Lamb Chops, but this could go with a great deal of many things. It is a for sure crowd pleaser - MyCommunalTable —The Editors
small summer squash of assorted shapes and colors
additional zucchinis if you're making timbales
small bulb of fennel
of a mixture of fresh small basil and mint leaves
Remove the ends of the squash. Using a mandoline, slice all the squash into thin slices, except the zucchini you may have reserved to make the timbales. To have a variety of shapes, I slice some into round discs and some long zucchini ribbons. Place in a bowl you will use to toss the entire salad.
Using the mandoline, thinly slice an entire small bulb of fennel, or 1/2 of a large bulb. Place in the bowl with the squash.
Zest and juice the lemon and add to the bowl. Add the mint and basil leaves.
In a separate small bowl, whisk the olive oil into the champagne vinegar and add 1/2 - 2/3 of the dressing to the salad bowl and toss the vegetables in it. Salt and pepper lightly. Add the Pecorino shavings. Let sit for 30 minutes to meld the flavors.
If you're making timbales, slice the additional zucchini squash into thin long ribbons and dip them into the remaining dressing. The best way I've found to make these timbales is with metal baking rings. I place a ring in the center of the salad plate and position the dressed zucchini slices around it, overlapping them as needed. Add additional dressing to the salad if needed and spoon the salad into the middle. Let sit for 2-4 minutes and gingerly lift the baking ring off. My timbales have lasted as long as an hour without a problem. The dressing does a great job of holding it all together.
For garnish, I add a small fennel frond so folks know there's also fennel in the salad.