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My relationship with zucchini has never been functional. I want to love it, since there’s so much of it around in the summer and it’s so easy to prepare, but it always tastes watery and disappointing, whether steamed, grilled, or…okay, fried is the exception. But I can’t be breading and frying zucchini all that often.

Recently I tried this zucchini and chicken salad and discovered that, all this time, I’ve been going about things all wrong. Slivered up in a flash with my handheld Japanese mandoline, then tossed with a lemony dressing, raw zucchini tastes great and has a much nicer texture than cooked zucchini. You can eat this plain or tossed with eight ounces of baby spinach, as suggested in the book. Stuffed into a pita, it would also make a nice summer sandwich. I skipped the pecans on account of my husband’s deadly nut allergy, and the Parmesan because I am cheap. We made do with a scattering of sunflower seeds, which were good. Next time I might try chick peas and feta instead of pecans and Parmesan.

For me and zucchini, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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