On one of the first warm days of spring, my family and I gathered to honor my mother. We have Sunday dinners every week; this Sunday was different. This Sunday, my mother relaxed while the rest of our family prepped and cooked dinner.
The meal was simple and began with a Grilled Zucchini and Hazelnut Salad.
- 1/3 cup shelled hazelnuts
- 7 small zucchini (1 3/4 lbs in total)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups mixed green and purple basil leaves
- 3 oz top-quality Parmesan, broken up or very thinly sliced
- 2 tsp hazelnut oil
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Scatter the hazelnuts over a baking sheet and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until nicely browned. When cool, chop roughly or crush lightly with the side of a large knife.
Heat the grill to medium. Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them on an angle into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place them in a bowl and toss with half the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Place the slices on the hot grill and char-grill for about 3 minutes on each side. You want to get char marks without cooking the zucchini through. Transfer to a mixing bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, toss together and set aside.
Once the zucchini have cooled down, add the remaining olive oil, the basil and hazelnuts. Mix lightly, then taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Transfer the salad to a flat plate, incorporating the Parmesan, and drizzle over the hazelnut oil.
Makes 4 servings.
I tossed the salad with a beautiful serving set from Artisan Connect. Made by the artisans of Mitra Bali, the set is carved from mahogany with an inlay of crushed white coconut shell on the handles. Mitra Bali, a fair Trade cooperative market, was established so that artisans could work outside of the near-monopoly of tourist art shops in Bali and sell their work at fair prices. Read more about the cooperative here.
With dinner ready and the wine uncorked, we sat out on the roof to eat and talk and celebrate. Between bites, the scent of lilacs (my mom's favorite) filled our senses. It was a gorgeous night for a gorgeous human being. More than expensive gifts, it felt like a perfect celebration of mothers to serve her and make memories that night. I later gave my mother the serving set and I hope she remembers that night we celebrated her whenever she uses it.