DinnerDrinks

By Suzanne Lehrer | July 8, 2011

Photos: Suzanne Lehrer

Limes, the ultimate sweet and sour, have been making people pucker since before the 10th century. They originated in Southeast Asia and subsequently Arab traders brought the trees to Egypt and Northern Africa. Three centuries later, the Arabian Moors brought the trees over to Spain, and from there the trees were dispersed throughout Southern Europe during the Crusades.

After his more notable first voyage to the New World, Columbus, on his second visit in 1493, brought lime trees over to the Caribbean. Centuries later, British traders started calling limes, which were eaten to prevent scurvy, “limeys,” a nickname for Brits (which also sounds very much like “blimey!”). In the 1500s Spanish explorers brought limes to Florida, where Key limes, a tarter variety used most notably in Key lime pie, originated.

Zucchini Carpaccio with Lime, Pistachio, and Mint Recipe
Makes 4 Servings

Although this dish is monochromatic in shades of green, it was an enormous hit this past red, white, and blue weekend. Deceptively easy to throw together, and very elegant when plated, the carpaccio was fresh and summery, with the brightness of the lime and mint balanced nicely with the crunch from the pistachios.

When I was younger, the mandolin was always the scary thing I was not supposed to touch in our pantry, but after finally using it for the first time in this dish I can proudly say I was left with all ten fingers and very professional-looking slices of zucchini. If you don’t have a mandolin, you can try getting very thin slices with a sharp knife.

Heaps of praise for your inventiveness and mad culinary skills: guaranteed.

Photo: Suzanne Lehrer

Danielle’s Perfect Margarita
Makes 1 drink

And thus ends a very long saga for my friend and margarita connoisseur, Danielle. Every margarita-lover is very picky about exactly what kind of marg floats their boat. Some want fruity, some want slushy, some just want margarita mix thrown in a glass next to chips and guacamole and they’re good to go. But Danielle was in search of the perfect, sour mix-less but still lime-y, fresh-tasting, stripped down margarita out there, and this recipe finally hit the mark. You can buy simple syrup, or make your own by heating to a boil equal parts sugar and water, and stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and then let cool.

Photo: Suzanne Lehrer

In a perfect world, there would be a cocktail shaker for this concoction. But hey, what fun is cocktail-making without a little improvisation? If you lack the proper cocktail equipment, don’t give up: shake up the mixture in a plastic bottle. Yup, you heard right. No one will be complaining once they try the drink, and if they are still complaining, just keep serving them more.

The trick to making a margarita perfectly crafted with love is to do each one individually, so the recipe below is for a single margarita.

For the Zucchini Carpaccio:
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice plus 1 whole lime for serving
  • 3 tbsp pistachios, chopped
  • 6-8 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
For the Margarita:
  • 75 ml tequila blanco
  • 75 ml fresh lime juice
  • 75 ml simple syrup
  • 75 ml Cointreau
  • Salt, for rim of glass

Directions

To Make Zucchini Carpaccio:

1. After washing the zucchini, wrap in paper towels for 30-60 minutes until completely dry before use. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lime juice. Set the mandolin to slice the zucchini into long, lengthwise pieces, taking care not to pick up the zucchini as you keep slicing so the top piece holding it in place doesn't come out.

2. Lay the slices on a platter and pour in the lime and olive oil mixture, making sure each slice of zucchini is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

3. Unwrap, and sprinkle mint and pistachios evenly over the slices. Cut the whole lime in half, and squeeze a little extra juice over the top, sprinkle the sea salt, and then use the remaining lime halves to serve on the plate.

To Make Margarita:

Put a glass in the fridge or freezer for 3 hours before use. Remove the glass and fill with ice. Lightly dry the glass. Dip the rim of the chilled glass into the salt until it rings the top. In your shaker of choice, shake together all the ingredients, and pour over ice in the glass and serve immediately and repeatedly.

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