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Saltimbocca of Zucchini

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Saltimbocca means “to jump in the mouth,” and that’s exactly what the flavors in this dish do! Although saltimbocca is classically prepared with milk-fed veal, I like tweaking traditional recipes in an effort to create lighter dishes. Serve this dish as a midweek supper or a weekend starter. It also makes a wonderful accompaniment to roasted meats and poultry. The zucchini taste great at room temperature when all the flavors come through equally. If you plan on serving this as a first course, make a small salad dressed with citrus vinaigrette to serve alongside. This is a fun recipe for those overgrown zucchini lurking under the thick leaves in the garden.

NotesChoose fairly fat, evenly round zucchini that are similar in length and diameter. Those that are about 8 inches long and 1½ inches in diameter work well. In addition, the zucchini should be as even in diameter from one end to the other as possible. It is important to work quickly, not hesitating between assembling, coating, and cooking.

Serves4 as a light main dish, 6 to 8 as a side dish or starter

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseappetizer, main course, side dish

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentmandoline

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecheesy, herby, light, savory

Ingredients

  • About 2 pounds zucchini (see Chef’s Notes)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto (about ¼ pound)
  • Leaves from 1 bunch fresh sage
  • About 1/3 pound Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • About ¼ cup pure olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • About 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Instructions

  1. Cut a thin lengthwise slice off each zucchini so they can then be cut lengthwise into even ¼- to 1/3-inch-thick slices. This is most easily done on a mandoline. You will need 16 slices total. Lay them out in pairs on paper towels or a clean tea towel and season lightly with salt and pepper.

  2. Arrange the prosciutto slices on half the zucchini slices so none hangs over the edges. Place 2 sage leaves on top. Place the cheese slices on top, taking the same precautions you did with the prosciutto. Finally, lay the remaining zucchini slices on top of each stack. Cover with paper towels or another clean tea towel and press down firmly to extract moisture and firm the zucchini.

  3. Pour the eggs into a deep plate. Season the flour with salt and pepper and put on another plate. Pick up each zucchini stack by both ends and hold it securely closed as you dip it first in the egg and then dredge in the flour until evenly coated.

  4. In a skillet large enough to hold at least 3 zucchini stacks at a time, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the zucchini, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate and keep warm until all are cooked. Add more oil by tablespoonfuls, if needed.

  5. Add the remaining sage leaves to the hot pan and cook briefly until crisp. Arrange several crisped leaves on top of each saltimbocca. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley, a light dusting of Parmesan, and lemon wedges.

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