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Julia's Picnic-Perfect Marinated Zucchini And Feta Crostini

Food

The second most popular ‘P’ word of this year is ‘picnic’ (no prizes for guessing the first!), but we are definitely okay with that. In a year where it’s been either too cold or absolutely forbidden to socialise in groups, we’ve welcomed the summer of outdoor dining and parkside gatherings to our plans with giddy delight. It tastes so sweet!

But with this enthusiasm of returning to pre-pandemic frivolity, comes the wilful forgetting of painful picnic logistics: appropriate drinking vessels, toilet queues and the perfect park snack. We can’t help you with the first two but Julia Busuttil Nishimura can help you with the third!

Read on her for her marvellous marinated zucchini and feta crostini – the perfect (and super easy) crowd-pleasing contribution to any outdoor get-together. Crunchy, zesty and fresh, it’s best served at room temperature on a balmy night, preferably surrounded by trees.

12th November, 2020

Recipe and photographs by Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

Recipe and photographs by Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
Thursday 12th November 2020

It’s been a funny old year, but it feels like here in Melbourne we’re finally emerging from the fog. Drinks with friends in an actual bar, driving across town to go to the markets, and picnics with family in the park! The city feels alive again! While winter was all about comfort baking – banana bread, sourdough and cinnamon buns – now I find myself dreaming of snacks and little bites to enjoy in the almost-summer sun. 

Here I give to you a quick and easy crostini which is very adaptable. The base is simply marinated feta but ricotta would be really good, as would some buffalo mozzarella roughly torn or a spoonful or stracciatella! The zucchini is simply fried in olive oil then marinated  – it’s a classic Italian way to prepare vegetables called alla scapece. The longer they are left to marinate, the better they are, just be sure to bring them back to room temperature before serving. Salute!

Ingredients

(Serves 8 as a snack)
300g marinated feta or goats cheese (I used Meredith Dairy)
1 baguette, sliced diagonally into 1cm-thick lengths
1 clove garlic, halved
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Zest of a lemon
Sea salt and black pepper

Marinated zucchini

400g (approximately 4) zucchini, cut diagonally into 2cm-thick lengths
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
1 dried chilli, finely sliced or crumbled
Handful of mint, thinly shredded
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Method

Lay the zucchini slices on paper towel or a clean towel in a single layer to dry out for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. The longer you let them dry, the better they will fry. 

Heat a pan over a medium high heat and pour in the oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, fry the zucchini slices in batches until golden, around 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the zucchini to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any oil. Combine in a bowl with the garlic and chilli. When slightly cooled add the mint and red wine vinegar.

Grill the slices of baguette on both sides. I do this by sitting the slices on a small wire rack over the gas flame, but on a grill is perfect, or a cast iron pan works too. Rub one side of the toasted bread with the halved garlic clove and then drizzle with olive oil. 

Spread the grilled bread with the feta and then top with the marinated zucchini. Season with sea salt and pepper and top with the lemon zest. 

What else I’m cooking with:

New season stone fruit! Hooray! In galettes, pies and cakes! But also in salads – with buffalo mozzarella, rocket and mint. Bring on summer produce! 

What else I’m eating:

The salad roll from Juanito’s in Brunswick. I don’t know why this sandwich is so good – it’s ridiculously simple but so satisfying every time!

Click here to download recipe printout!

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