Zucchini gets something of a bad rap for being both rampant and slightly flavorless. Sometime in late summer, zucchini patches all across the country begin yielding unbelievable amounts of the stuff, resulting in a glut of zucchini bread, muffins and the like. Growing up, I was never much of a zucchini fan, mainly because it had a tendency to pop up on crudité trays, a bland traitor masquerading as the far more exciting cucumber.
As an adult, though, I've come around to zucchini and its summer squash compatriots. Its lack of assertive flavor - the very thing that put me off of it so many years ago - makes it the perfect canvas for a myriad of seasonings and preparations. I particularly enjoy it roasted. In a hot oven, zucchini turns sweet just slightly meaty in texture - a great foil for a light vinaigrette and some lightly stinky mascarpone.
The inspiration for these toasts comes from the fabulous whole foods blog Sprouted Kitchen. Sara flavors her zucchini with parsley and mint, and spreads the toast with ricotta - but since I have basil and thyme on hand, along with half a tub of mascarpone, I went in a slightly different direction. I also thought it would be good to dress the warm zucchini in a little lemon juice, the better to get the flavor deep into the fruit. I think it works. How about you?
Roasted Zucchini Toasts
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
1 lb. zucchini or summer squash, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 tbs. finely chopped fresh herbs (I used a mix of thyme and basil)
2 tbs. finely chopped red onion
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 slices bread
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, toss the zucchini with just enough olive oil to coat it (a teaspoon or so should do it), along with a pinch each of salt and pepper. (Save the bowl; you'll use it again.) Spread the zucchini evenly onto a cookie sheet. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the zucchini is well-browned and roasted through.
Place the zucchini back in the large bowl. Using a fork, stir the lemon juice and mustard together in a small bowl, then add to the zucchini. Add 2/3 of the herbs and 2/3 of the onion, along with a bit more salt and pepper. Toss everything to combine evenly. Allow this mixture to sit while you toast your bread.
Toast the bread to your desired doneness. Spread each piece of toast with half of the mascarpone cheese, then top with half the zucchini mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs and onions. Serve immediately.
Makes two pieces of toast.