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Baby Summer Squash with Ricotta & Hazelnuts

TIME: 45 MINUTES; SERVES: 4+
Adapted from “Bon Appetit”

This recipe is perfect for the first early harvest of baby summer squash & zucchini. It’s important when growing summer squash to harvest the first fruits before they fully mature. If left on the plant, they drain its reproductive energy, and the plant will produce fewer fruits long term.

What better way to enjoy this early Summer treat than over a creamy cloud of homemade ricotta and toasted hazelnuts?

If you’re purchasing zucchini from the market, look for the smallest ones, ideally that feel a little fuzzy—they are the freshest and pack the most flavor. Making ricotta takes less than 30 minutes and is an entirely different product than store bought, but my favorite product to use in a pinch is Bellweather Ricotta.

INGREDIENTS

1 - 2 pounds baby summer squash or zucchini, halved. (or ~4 medium, quartered)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup hazelnuts
5 tbls. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 small bunch basil, roughly torn or chopped
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
2 tbls. sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 lemon, juice & zest
2 tbls. parsley
1/2 cup fresh ricotta

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash and 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt in a colander over a bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.

  2. Toast hazelnuts in a cast iron skillet on medium-low heat, stirring often until golden brown, about 10 - 15 minutes. Let cool, then roughly chop.

  3. Mix basil, garlic, vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes & 2 tbls. oil in a large bowl; set aside.

  4. Toss squash in remaining 2 tbls. oil and arrange, cut side down on a large baking sheet (make sure not to crowd them—use 2 sheets if necessary). Roast for 15 - 20 minutes, until golden brown and very tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

  5. Toss squash in dressing to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature, tossing occasionally, 10 - 15 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, zest the lemon half into a small bowl, mix in ricotta and remaining 1 tbls. oil; season with salt.

  7. Spread lemon-ricotta on a platter. Top with squash, and scatter with parsley & hazelnuts. Squeeze remaining lemon juice on top and drizzle generously with oil. Season with salt and pepper.

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