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Zucchini-ribbon pistachio salad

(John d. erickson for the boston globe)
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July 30, 2008

Serves 4

With several swipes of a vegetable peeler, a hefty zucchini is transformed into a dainty salad that looks and tastes far more three-star restaurant than it costs. Lemon juice tenderizes the uncooked zucchini slices, allowing them to fold like al dente pappardelle. Roasted green pistachios add a contrasting texture and nutty flavor to balance the slick, sweet, and acidic ribbons. The dish is garnished with shaves of Parmesan. You need a Swiss vegetable peeler - the ones with plastic handles and carbon steel blades that form a "Y" shape and cost less than $4 (www.kuhnrikon.com). If you don't own one, they're at most housewares stores. The little implement will change your life (or at the very least the fruit- and vegetable-peeling part of it). This technique of peeling raw vegetables lengthwise into strips sparks cooking creativity: Picture thinly sliced zucchini substituting for pasta in lasagna. But first try this five-minute salad.

1/2 cup shelled green pistachio nuts
6 small zucchini
Grated rind and strained juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
5tablespoons olive oil
1 small piece (about 1/4 pound) Parmesan
1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the pistachios, shaking the pan often, for 10 minutes or until they are aromatic. Let them cool slightly. Chop them coarsely.

2. Using a Swiss vegetable peeler, hold one of the zucchini lengthwise over a large bowl and work the peeler along the zucchini to make thin strips. Continue with the remaining zucchini. Or use a mandoline to cut strips.

3. In a small bowl, combine the lemon rind and juice with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the zucchini and toss to coat it. Add more salt and pepper, toss again, and taste for seasoning.

4. Add the pistachios and toss again.

5. Using the peeler, shave thin slices from the piece of Parmesan. Arrange the salad on each of 4 plates, and top with thin slices of cheese. Jill Santopietro

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