Wednesday, May 27, 2009
AMAZING is an accurate description of this Saltimbocca of Zucchini! The literal Italian translation for saltimbocca means "jumps in the mouth". That is pretty darn accurate. Give this recipe a try, you'll see what I mean. Traditionally, Saltimbocca is a dish popular in southern Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Greece made of veal, chicken or pork, lined or topped with prosciutto and sage. I love the twist on this recipe, using zucchini instead of veal and basil in place of sage. Also, there's Fontina cheese in there! Where has this cheese been all my life?! I loved it. I've been eating the leftover cheese on my roast beef sandwiches all week. Good stuff!
I found this recipe at Elizabeth's Edible Experience. She has some seriously delicious food on her blog. She found and adapted the recipe from the Food Network courtesy of Michael Chiarello of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello. After my dinner of Saltimbocca of Zucchini, I'd like to thank them both.
Cut each zucchini lengthwise into thin even 1/4-inch thick slices. According to Mr. Chiarello, this is most easily done on a mandolin. I don't have a mandolin. Do I look like Captain Corelli? Never mind, don't answer that. I need to put one on my wish list. The kitchen implement, that is, not the musical instrument. I used my chef's knife and my steady hand instead.
You're supposed to lay them out in pairs on paper towels or a clean tea towel and season lightly with salt and pepper. The towels soak up the extra water from the zucchini. I forgot the paper towel on bottom, but I did remember to blot out the moisture after my little zucchini stacks were assembled.
Arrange the prosciutto slices on half the zucchini slices so none hangs over the edges. Place some fresh chopped basil on top.
Now for the Fontina cheese. Somehow, I've misplaced my handy little adjustable cheese slicer. Luckily, my grater has a slot for slicing. Fontina is a soft cheese. It was tricky, but it worked.
Place the cheese slices on top, taking the same precautions you did with the prosciutto. Lay the remaining zucchini slices on top of each stack. Cover with paper towels or another clean tea towel, and press down firmly to extract moisture and firm the zucchini.
Pour the eggs into a deep plate. Pick up each zucchini stack by both ends and hold it securely closed as you dip it in the egg. You can see from the picture below that I follow directions to a "T".
I seasoned my flour liberally with some seasoning salt and pepper. Dredge the zucchini stacks in the flour until evenly coated.
In a skillet large enough to hold at least 5 zucchini stacks at a time, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. I used my electric griddle and cooked them all at once. I've been burning that griddle up lately. First with the fried mush, then corn cakes and now these. Love my griddle! Cook the zucchini, turning once, until golden brown on each side. Remove to a plate and keep warm until all are cooked. Add more oil by tablespoonfuls, if needed.
I had some extra egg and flour left after breading the zucchini, so I sliced an onion. Then I dipped the slices in the egg, dredged them in the flour, and tossed them onto my griddle as well. These onions made the perfect, tasty little nest for my Saltimbocca of Zucchini platter.
I arranged my onions on the platter, then the zucchini stacks, and topped it all off with some freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and more fresh chopped basil. Wow! Everyone loved this. Initially, my picky oldest child scooted her chair up to the table and turned up her nose, declaring, "I am NOT eating THAT! It's zucchini. Yuck." We practice the "one bite rule" in this house. You may not want to eat it, but you at least have to honestly try it. Chew and swallow. No drama please. Yeah, right. One bite, and her complaints stopped. She had seconds. I'm not going to say how many helpings found their way onto my plate. I will confess that they're also good hours later as a midnight snack, straight from the fridge.
Saltimbocca of Zucchini adapted from Elizabeth's Edible adapted from Michael Chiarello
2 pounds zucchini (each about 8 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter work best)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 thin slices prosciutto (about 1/4 pound)
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1/3 pound fontina cheese, thinly sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1 cup all-purpose flour
seasoning salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup pure olive oil, plus more as needed
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Cut each zucchini lengthwise into thin, even 1/4-inch thick slices. (This is most easily done on a mandolin.) Lay them out in pairs on paper towels or a clean tea towel and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the prosciutto slices on half the zucchini slices so none hangs over the edges. Place basil on top. Place the cheese slices on top, taking the same precautions you did with the prosciutto. Finally, lay the remaining zucchini slices on top of each stack. Cover with paper towels or another clean tea towel, and press down firmly to extract moisture and firm the zucchini.
Pour the eggs into a deep plate. Season the flour with season salt and pepper and put it on another plate. Pick up each zucchini stack by both ends and hold it securely closed as you dip it first in the egg and then dredge in the flour until evenly coated.
In a skillet large enough to hold at least 5 zucchini stacks at a time or an electric griddle, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the zucchini, turning once, until golden brown on each side. Remove to a plate and keep warm until all are cooked. Add more oil by tablespoonfuls, if needed.
Served on top of fried onions, if desired. Grate parmigianno-reggiano cheese over the top. Sprinkle with basil.