With an everyday vegetable peeler, you can turn summer’s most ubiquitous squash into wide, pretty ribbons that come to life in a creamy and bright avocado-meets-scallion-and-jalapeño dressing. Plated like pasta and layered with sheep’s milk cheese and a gremolata-like mix of sweetened pepitas, lime zest, and cilantro, this is a summer meal on its own or an impressive side to make all throughout the season. If you crave a little heat, try adding some of the jalapeño seeds to the dressing.
In a small food processor, finely chop the jalapeño, scallion, and garlic, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the avocado, lime juice, salt, black pepper, canola oil, and 1/4 cup water, and blend until smooth and creamy. If needed, add up to 2 Tbs. more water, 1 Tbs. at a time, if the mixture is too thick.
In a medium bowl, combine the agave syrup and salt. Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pepitas and toast, stirring frequently, until golden and browning in places, 4 to 5 minutes. Working quickly, transfer the pepitas to the bowl and toss to coat. Return the pepitas to the pan, using a spatula to remove them from the sides of the bowl, and toast again, stirring constantly, until fragrant and just browning, about 30 seconds. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and let cool completely.
On a cutting board, coarsely chop the pepitas, and gather them in a mound in the center of your board. Sprinkle the cilantro and lime zest over the top, and continue to chop, evenly combining the mixture and further breaking down the pepitas into a fine, slightly coarse mixture.
Place the zucchini ribbons in a large bowl, and combine with about 7 Tbs. of the dressing, adding a little at a time and using clean or gloved hands to separate, toss, and evenly coat the ribbons. Add 1 Tbs. of the gremolata, and freshly grate a generous sprinkling of Manchego over the top of the zucchini using a rasp-style grater. Toss the ribbons again to evenly coat. Season with salt and pepper and add more dressing if desired, keeping in mind that you will add the remaining cheese and gremolata as you plate the ribbons.
Using tongs, transfer a small portion of the ribbons to a shallow serving bowl. Layer with more freshly grated Manchego and gremolata. Repeat three more times, layering the ribbons, Manchego, and gremolata, making sure to save enough cheese and gremolata for each layer including the top. Serve immediately.
I agree it was a bit of a production but worth it. Didn’t have any cilantro or jalapeño on hand so I substituted basil and peperoncini and added some hot pepper flakes to match the heat. Loved the thinness of the zucchini ribbons. I had never done that before. Will definitely make again.
Wonderful salad, though a bit of a production. The avocado dressing came together quickly and tasted like a dream. Leftover dressing went right on our tacos. Pepita gremolata could become a snacking rage - crunchy, sweet, tropical. Manchego was the perfect essential garnish for the salad. And it looked just like the photo!
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