Friday, February 8, 2013

White Zucchini, Avocado and Cos Salad

White Zucchini Obsession Day concluded with this refreshing summer salad that I had been dying to make ever since my last trip to Greece. Now don't be scared but it involves boiled zucchinis that are served cold with lemon juice and olive oil.

Boiled zucchinis can be revolting – I've tried many times with the dark skinned variety and they often turn out water-logged, bitter and sometimes even slimy. But in Limnos last year Tony and I experienced a very different kind of boiled zucchini, using the beautiful white variety of zucchini that I have been incessantly raving on about for the last few days.

When I was growing up the only relatives my sisters and I knew about were my mum's sister, my mum's father, my mum's Aunty Betty and one cousin. That was it. And that was VERY unusual for a Greek family. Only four extended family members. But that was in Australia.

Little did we know there were more of us back in Greece. My dad's parents, his two sisters and a brother, children of those siblings and many other cousins from both my mum's and dad's side. But it wasn't until I was in my 20s and 30s that I finally got to meet some of these relatives while on holiday in Greece.

My dad's brother, George, and his wife, Koula, live on the island of Rhodes which is located in the very southeast part of the Aegean Sea, below Turkey. It gets very hot down there in the summer and during this time George and Koula stay at the family house in Limnos where the climate is more bearable during the hotter months. As my dad and his wife Julia spend most of the year at the Limnos house, it's also a good opportunity for the two 80-something brothers to spend time with one another.

Up until just a few years ago I'd only met George and Koula once, and very briefly. It wasn't until 2009 when Tony and I were holidaying in Limnos that we finally got to spend some quality time with these lovely people, my Uncle George and Aunt Koula.

George and Koula are still enjoying life to the fullest and even though George has been quite unwell in recent years, it hasn't stopped him from getting on a plane to come to Limnos every year. Koula is an incredible woman, a high spirited, amazing cook and has the most wicked sense of humour. Last year I spent many hours with her in the kitchen documenting everything she cooked up, writing down her recipes and photographing every step. I will blog about some of those recipes in future posts, but today I have to share with you the boiled zucchini miracle that Koula shared with me.

It's those white zucchinis again, performing in a way that the dark-skinned ones just can't live up to. Slightly sweeter and less watery, white zucchinis are more conducive to saladizing treatment. Koula would boil them whole, then slice in them in half and refrigerate, usually just served on their own with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil. One day Koula and I decided to cut them up and mix them with a couple of other ingredients. Koula had some cos lettuce in the fridge, picked some dill from the garden and I went down to the shop and came back with an avocado. George was perplexed, having never eaten or even seen an avocado before in his life, but Koula and I knew that these flavours would work and the various greens would look great together too!

The salad was well received by all, even George, and just a couple of days ago I was so excited to be able to make it once again, here in Australia.

White Zucchini, Avocado and Cos Salad

Serves 4


  • 1 baby cos lettuce
  • 1 large avocado
  • 6 small white zucchinis
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Extra dill for garnishing


  1. Wash the zucchinis and boil whole until tender. Takes around ten minutes.
  2. Drain the zucchinis, arrange on a plate, cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
  3. Chop the cooled zucchinis, lettuce and avocado into bite-sized pieces and arrange in a salad bowl.
  4. Whisk the dill, lemon juice, olive oil and salt to make the dressing and pour over salad. Sprinkle salad with extra dill. Serve with a generous piece of vegetarian moussaka.


  1. This looks great. It's funny, my mum used to boil zucchinis in summer and dress them in olive oil and lemon juice and they tasted great! Every time I tried it it was not pleasant...I must try the white version! Thank you for sharing!

    1. You're welcome Peter! It think the white zucchinis make all the difference... The Greeks know their stuff don't they ;)

  2. Lovely! My sister has given me some white zucchinis from her garden so I know what I'll be making :)

    1. Oh you lucky thing!!! And home-grown they'll be even better! (SOOOOO jealous).

  3. You know, my mom used to boil zucchini whole too--then she'd stuff them. It did always make them very limp and watery, but the zucchini in your photos looks anything but! They sell that white zucchini at the farmers market here, so I may just have to try this. :)

    1. Oh I'd love to know if white zucchinis elsewhere perform as well as the little gems I got my hands on here. I think keeping the cooking time to no more than ten minutes helps... and cutting them up also solves the full-length limpness issue! ;)

  4. Ahah! I think a puzzle has been solved. On Australia day I went to a (dare I mention it) BBQ and one of the guests brought a salad which included long thin strips of what I thought could have been cucumber, could have been zucchini, but wasn't soggy or watery. I never found out. Now I'm suspecting that it was white zucchini, thinly shaved lengthwise.


    1. Hi Stuart, nice to see you here!! Yes, I've seen the very fashionable thin strips of zucchini used in lots of salads at the moment. Did you try some?

  5. Always used green zuchinies for salads but found them too watery . . . I'll definetely try your recipe with white zuchinies combined with avocado. But no I wont' be doing the home made yoghurt! I am sure it will be delicious ,so time consuming though.Lazy Mum.

    1. Yeah home-made yoghurt takes time but you don't have to sit and watch it (although I have to admit the first time I made yoghurt it was like my baby - I vigilantly watched over it, lifting the towel every 20 minutes or so, checking to see if it had set... for the whole five hours). The results are worth the wait though!!


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