This simple and wonderful seasonal dish came together while I was visiting a friend in East Hampton, New York. Driving back from the beach, I picked up fresh vegetables at an organic farm stand in Sagaponack. As I unpacked the most beautiful zucchini and tomatoes I had ever seen, my chef friend joked that we should make a tower out of the vegetables. We grilled the tomatoes and zucchini, and using pesto as our “mortar,” created our Zucchini Napoleon — a petite tower with giant taste! If you can and heirloom tomatoes, the flavor will be even better.
Serves 3 as a small appetizer
1 medium to large zucchini 1 large tomato
Salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup Pistachio Pesto (recipe follows)
1) Cut the zucchini in half crosswise, then cut each half lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Slice the tomato into ¼-inch-thick slices, then halve the tomato slices. Sprinkle both sides of the zucchini and tomato slices with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
2) In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini slices and sauté, dipping them as needed until they begin to brown on each side and become slightly soft. Remove the zucchini and set aside. Add the tomato slices to the pan and sauté for 1–2 minutes.
3) Spread a small amount of pesto on each plate, followed by a slice of zucchini, additional pesto and a slice of tomato. Repeat the layers to the desired height.
Makes about 2 cups
Pistachios were a staple in my home growing up, so much so that my grandfather used to have them shipped all the way from Turkey! Why not create a cream sauce with them? Blended pistachios have a consistency that can make a wonderful cream substitute. When we swapped out pine nuts for the pistachios, it created such a creamy consistency that there was no need for cheese in our pesto sauce. Try it with ravioli or your favorite pasta.
3 bunches fresh basil
½ cup raw unsalted pistachios
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1) Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice and water and set it nearby. Blanch the basil leaves in the boiling water for 5–10 seconds to wilt them. Carefully remove the basil from the boiling water and submerge it in the ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the basil, shaking off as much water as you can. Put the basil, garlic, pistachios, olive oil, salt and ½ cup water in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
Reprinted with permission from “The Blossom Cookbook: Classic Favorites From The Restaurant That Pioneered A New Vegan Cuisine” (Avery) by Ronen Seri and Pamela Elizabeth.