For the past two years I have eaten at Barbuto almost every week, excepting, of course, those times that I was away from New York. Just a quick walk up Washington Street from my apartment, it has been my local, my go-to, my I-am-too-lazy-to-cook-tonight solution, serving the kind of food that I could never get tired of: Seasonal, loosely Italian, flavorful and fresh, with well-sourced ingredients.
It doesn’t hurt that I know people there. I used to work for Jonathan Waxman, the owner, and I’ve known the bartender since I moved to New York more than eight years ago. I have run into many former co-workers sitting at the bar, line cooks and wine guys all gone separate ways, coming in to see the old boss and have a perfect plate of gnocchi or glass of wine (or five). I have often walked into Barbuto alone but I’ve always found good company.
Speaking of local, it’s not as easy as you might think to find regionally grown produce at the markets here in Paris. Most stands at most markets are operated by resellers who buy their stock at Rungis, the massive central food market located near Orly airport. One exception is on Saturdays at the Marché Batignolles which, in addition to being an organic market, features actual producteurs. (Best of all, the man who makes the potato galettes that I love so much at the Raspail market on Sundays is at Batignolles on Saturdays.)
But back to Barbuto: I love their salads, and I had a version of this one several times during the month of June: Zucchini and sometimes yellow squash, sliced raw and tossed with basil, olives, and almonds. It’s the kind of thing I could eat all summer, and probably will now that I’ve started making it myself. I took it to a picnic last Monday and made it for lunch today after a visit to the Batignolles market.
Zucchini Salad with Basil, Olives, and Almonds
Based on one of my Barbuto favorites
More or less:
1# zucchini, sliced 1/8″ thick
3/4 t salt
2 T olive oil
1 T almond oil (or more olive oil if you don’t have any)
1 T red or white wine vinegar
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 – 1/2 c black or green olives
1/4 – 1/2 c almonds with skins, toasted and roughly chopped
10-20 leaves fresh basil, left whole if small or torn if large
1/2 t or more crushed red pepper flakes
more salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1. Toss the zucchini with the salt, oils, vinegar, and lemon juice, and let it sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. Add everything else to the zucchini and toss gently. Taste and season, adding more salt, pepper, and lemon juice as you like.
If you like the zucchini firm serve the salad immediately. If you prefer it softer let the salad sit for a few hours or up to a day in the refrigerator. If you make it in advance be sure to taste it again before serving, it may need a little lemon juice or vinegar to perk it up.
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side.