WRITTEN ON May 28th, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Appetizer, Cheese, Nuts, Vegetarian

Sometimes, good things come in small packages. Chocolates. iPods. Diamond rings. Vegetables. I ventured down to the Greenmarket yesterday in search of strawberries, herbs and asparagus (more on these later). I found the most gorgeous light purple shallots and fragrant mint, along with some local feta. Inspiration struck. These gorgeous little towers of yum are impressive enough for company yet easy enough for everyday. The flavors meld perfectly, and the texture is unbeatable. The soft, crumbly feta is balanced by the crunch from the hazelnuts, the saltiness offset by the sweet shallots and peppery mint. Looking for a wine pairing? Try Las Brisas from the Rueda region in Spain (I also used this for the “splash” of white in the actual recipe). I’m big on Spanish wines, and I find that their whites are very budget and food friendly, great for summer, and perfect for a crowd. This one in particular has a nice acidity which cuts through the creaminess of the cheese. At about $12 a bottle, its a guilt-free weeknight sipper.

Napoleon complex

Napoleon complex

Zucchini Napoleon (serves 2)
1 large zucchini, cut in ½ inch thick slices (you will need 6 slices total)
1 large shallot, small dice
¼ cup crumbled feta
1 handful roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped or pulsed in food processor
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of ½ a lemon
8 fresh mint leaves
White wine
Non-stick spray
Salt and pepper to taste
Place zucchini slices on paper towels to remove some of the excess moisture. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil. Add chopped shallot, sauté until soft and golden. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan into small bowl. Add lemon juice, stir to coat. This, along with the excess oil, creates a dressing for the zucchini slices. Place pan back on heat, do not wipe out. Using the reserved oil and a little non-stick spray, place zucchini slices cut side down. Cook over medium-high heat until golden brown on one side. Flip, cook until soft but still holding their shape, about 1 minute more. Add a splash of white wine, reduce until it’s evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove zucchini slices from pan. On small plates, lay one zucchini slice, golden side up. Add a small amount of crumbled feta, some hazelnuts, some of the shallot mixture, and a mint leaf. Repeat with two more slices. Garnish with mint leaf. Each Napoleon should have three layers. Serve warm with crusty bread.

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