I received great positive feedback about my book, Six Nine, Two Ten, but one complaint I heard more than once was that I didn’t include any recipes. It had never crossed my mind when writing it that people would want the details of what is mostly a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cooking style, but it seems that some people are a bit nervous about what goes on in the kitchen. I was used to working in a laboratory and doing little experiments and adjustments with mixtures, and the long Boston winters—combined with the Food Channel and the town’s best grocery store across the street—gave me ample time and ideas from which to develop my favorite meals.
However, sometimes a dish pops out that takes no time or experimentation, and it’s so perfect and simple, you can’t believe you never thought of it before. In fact, I didn’t even really think of it so much as get forced into it by the need to do something with a hodgepodge of ingredients. I had bought four zucchini, sliced and roasted three of them (because that’s all that would fit on my baking sheet), and was then left with one lonely zucchini. I had also bought a bag of those seedless, easy-peel, kid-friendly mandarin oranges, which I then realized I wasn’t going to finish before leaving for the holidays. Oh, and my mint plant has been growing out of control.
So I decided to toss all these together, and it was simply the most satisfying, delicious, and refreshing salad ever. The zucchini adds this wonderful crunch, and it absorbs all the flavors, and the mint gives the fruit such a complex flavor. I have been a huge fan of adding mint to watermelon since my friend Sarah served it last summer, and mint seems to work just as well with oranges.
Here’s what I did. Let’s call it Orange-Zucchini-Mint Salad. Wait, that name sucks. How about just “Orzumi Salad.” That’ll keep ’em guessing!
2 ½ pounds of easy-peel, seedless mandarins (one bag is 3 pounds, and I used all but about 6 fruit). I separated all the sections and cut them in half.
1 whole zucchini, unpeeled and diced
½ cup of chopped, fresh, “sweet” mint
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 mandarin
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pinch of salt
1 dash of cayenne pepper (great on fruit!)
After being in the fridge overnight, this salad makes a wonderful syrup that coats all the ingredients. I finished this salad before 24 hours had passed!