05/04/06

Ensalada de Green Goddess

By steaming zucchini whole as we saw cooks do in Greece, more vegetable flavor is locked in while keeping the texture firm. Prepare the luscious, creamy dressing a day in advance for the flavors to ripen in the refrigerator.

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound zucchini
3 ounces panela or Monterey Jack cheese, diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 poblano chiles, roasted, seeded, peeled, and julienned*
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
Avocado Dressing, recipe follows

Steam the whole zucchini over simmering water 6 to 8 minutes, until softened through but not mushy. Cut into thick slices.

Combine all of the ingredients except the dressing in a bowl and toss. Add the Avocado Dressing and gently toss. Chill at least 1/2 hour and serve.

Avocado Dressing

Makes 1 cup

1 avocado, peeled and pitted
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 serrano chile, stemmed and seeded
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mash the avocado with the lemon juice in a bowl. Transfer to a blender along with the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. Pour the dressing into a container, cover, and allow to mellow in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

* Fresh chiles and bell peppers can be roasted over a gas flame or on a tray under the broiler. Keep turning so the skin is evenly charred, without burning and drying out the flesh. Transfer charred peppers to a plastic bag, tie the top closed, and let steam until cool to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes. The best way to peel is just to pull off the charred skin by hand and then dip the peppers briefly in water to remove any blackened bits. Do not peel the peppers under running water since that will wash away flavorful juices. Once peeled, cut away stems, seeds, and veins.

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