My Best Friend's Wedding Shower: Zucchini Salad

I always wanted a sister. Selfishly, I wanted someone to trade secrets and Barbies with, someone who always had my back and could lend an ear when I had a query or a hand when I needed a lift.

As the youngest child, thrown to the wild whims of an older brother and father who never let a Punch Bug go un-punched; I often felt like the odd girl out...until I met C. The confident, bouncy, opinionated, golden-haired girl who lived at the end of the street soon became the sister with whom I didn’t have to share a room but was as frequent a passerby in my house as I was in hers. Through the years she’s been the keeper of all of my secrets, my personal shopper, my makeup artist, and my advice-giver, even when unprompted.

Almost thirty years of friendship later, C is getting married and I was tasked with taking the lead in planning her bridal shower as co-maid of honor. As an only child with straightforward opinions, C is now an interior designer with exquisite taste, so I knew that I wanted to WOW her by creating a sophisticated event with a simple menu. 

After spending two days shopping, cooking, baking, packing, wrapping, and decorating, I completed my task (with help from Mom, Mom's best friend, C's mom, and T, my co-maid): Eight quiches, seven flower arrangements, three salads, two gifts, and about six-hundred teeny-tiny cookies. When Sunday afternoon finally arrived, I was exhausted and overwhelmed, worried that I wouldn't make it through wobbling on my four-inch heels. However, the second C walked in and I saw that familiar smile brighten across the face of the little blonde girl I met while jumping rope on a summer sidewalk...I knew I had it right.

This salad has been a favorite of mine since last summer when I took a cooking class at Sur la Table. The zesty, zucchini stunner is not only quick to throw together but also pleasing to the eye if you want something colorful and healthy on the table.

Shaved Zucchini Salad

Adapted from: Sur la Table

Yield: 4 servings (I quadrupled this recipe)

1/4c almond slices (or slivers), toasted

1 lb. small zucchini, preferably a mix of green and yellow varieties, each no more than 5 inches in length

3oz. Arugula

3oz. Parmesan cheese (or a mixture Parm-Reggiano, Romano, etc), shaved

2 ½ T extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ T lemon juice

1 small clove garlic, minced

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast almonds on a baking sheet until golden, 3-5 minutes. Let cool. (This can be done ahead of time.)

Trim zucchini ends. Using a vegetable peeler (or mandoline) shave the zucchini lengthwise, discarding the first and last slices that are mostly skin. Put zucchini ribbons in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt, to taste. Add dressing to the shaved zucchini and toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften zucchini.

Add the arugula to the zucchini and add the shaved cheese. Toss gently until mixed. Top with toasted almonds, serve immediately.