This recipe is inspired by a dish from the Boat Shed Cafe in Nelson, New Zealand. Sitting on the covered porch, overlooking the Nelson harbour, our brunch started off with a fresh summer crostini of zucchini and mint. Later that week I was invited to join the Gourmet Sailing team aboard their boat for an evening BBQ, so I made up some zucchini crostini of my own to share with the group. This flavour combination reminds me of late summer in Ontario, when there is an abundance of zucchini…and the ongoing challenge of how to find fun ways to serve it. Look for smaller zucchini, as they are younger and have more flesh and less seeds. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, you can substitute feta.
MAKES 12-16 PIECES
3 small zucchini
half fresh red chili pepper
zest of one lemon
small handful mint leaves (about a dozen large leaves)
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon
freshly cracked black pepper
3 tbsp semi-firm goat cheese, crumbled
fresh baguette, thinly sliced
Cut off the two ends of the zucchini and discard. Cut zucchini lengthwise into long slices about ¼ cm (1/8”) thick. Stack the slices and cut again lengthwise to create shoestrings. Then cut in half horizontally so that you now have matchstick-size pieces.
Remove seeds from chili. You only want to use the red outer flesh. Make sure to wash your hands and knife afterwards, so as not to transfer the spicy oils from the seeds to other ingredients (or to yourself!). Transfer chili to a mixing bowl. Add lemon zest, mint, and 2 tbsp olive oil. Add zucchini and toss to coat.
Slice the baguette and toast each slice to make your crostini. I find the easiest way is to lay all the slices on a baking sheet and lightly broil on the top rack in the oven. Just keep your eye on them – they can go from toasted to burnt in seconds.
To serve, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to the zucchini mix. Taste and adjust as necessary. Drizzle the toasted baguette slices with the remaining olive oil, then top with zucchini and crumble goat cheese over top.