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Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette for All Manner of Vegetables

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette | Delightful Crumb

I think a lot about vegetables and how to prepare them, which will surprise no one. When it comes to eating vegetables, I personally am pleased with many simple things: a handful of snap peas, a perfect green salad, a straightforward smoothie. But that’s only the beginning. While I don’t eat meat, I also don’t subsist on raw cucumbers and kale, as some people still assume. This is neither sufficient nutrients nor excitement enough for me or for you. And while we’re all much more accustomed to stunning veg dishes than we were only a decade ago, thank goodness, there’s more progress to be made. Vegetables still have some work to do to impress those raised on canned green beans or gently cooked Brussels sprouts or the sad restaurant salads of yore—and maybe the rest of us, too.

Some days, perfect produce prepared perfectly is sufficient. The green salad at Via Carota, which I have eaten at its source but have not yet made at home, is an excellent example. So too is the composed salad category, should you find you have some top summer produce on hand upon returning from the farmers market or, should you be so lucky, your backyard garden.

But some days, more pizzazz is in order. Enter this caper-raisin vinaigrette. It’s punchy, bright, packed with flavor and more than enough to convince a zucchini skeptic of the humble squash’s potential. The recipe comes from Six Seasons, a cookbook by Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s in Portland—absolutely a restaurant worth visiting next you’re in that fine city. This little condiment demonstrates why McFadden is known for his way with vegetables. It is delicious, and it elevates simply cooked vegetables to great new heights—ideal for these summer days when you want to minimize the time spent at the oven, and perhaps redirect that attention to the grill and conversation with friends, cold beer or lemonade or rosé in hand.

And so, if you are yet to be convinced that vegetables are exciting, I offer you this caper-raisin vinaigrette and a plea to try again. For all the rest of you, here’s one more for your collection!

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette | Delightful Crumb

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette

Adapted from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons

I use this vinaigrette most often with zucchini, as outlined below, but broccoli, turnips, eggplant, and potatoes would all be excellent foils. It’s also quite forgiving, so, for example, use the small-sized tin of anchovies you find at your grocery store, and don’t worry if you have black raisins rather than golden ones. If you are a vegetarian (not a pescatarian), I think this would still be delicious sans anchovies, if slightly less punchy.

As for the zucchini preparation, I don’t have a grill, but I’ve included those instructions as well—it’s summer, after all! I often forget to salt the zucchini beforehand, and it turns out just fine either way.

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette | Delightful Crumb

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vin.

1/3 cup golden raisins

3 garlic cloves, peeled

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

One 1.6- to 2-ounce tin anchovies, drained

About 3/4 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving

1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for serving

Kosher salt, plus more for serving

For the zucchini:

Zucchini (about 1/2 pound per person is generous)

Big handful of cherry tomatoes

Red pepper flakes

Fresh lemon juice

Dried breadcrumbs, optional

Freshly ground black pepper

To make the caper-raisin vinaigrette, put the vinegar and raisins in a small bowl to let the raisins plump for about 30 minutes.

Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely minced, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the capers and anchovies and pulse until you have a coarse paste. Add the parsley and pulse until completely chopped, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the raisins and vinegar and pulse until the mixture is blended but still slightly coarse. Scrape the mixture from the processor into a bowl and whisk in the olive oil to make a slightly chunky dressing. Taste and adjust with more salt or oil, if needed. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

To serve over zucchini, begin by preparing the squash. Trim the ends and halve lengthwise. Generously salt the squash on their cut faces and leave to drain for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours (transfer to the refrigerator if leaving for more than 2 hours). If you forget this step, don’t worry—it will still be delicious.

When ready to prepare the squash, blot it with paper towel to remove moisture and excess salt.

Heat a grill or the broiler to high. Cook the squash (without oil) until both sides are lightly browned and it is just tender.

Pile the squash into a bowl, tumble in the tomatoes and drizzle with a glug of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, several twists of black pepper and a generous amount of lemon juice. Toss gently. Add a couple of big spoonfuls of the caper-raisin vinaigrette and toss again. Taste and adjust the flavors with more vinaigrette, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and/or lemon.

Arrange on a plate and shower with breadcrumbs, if using, and a few leaves of parsley.

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