Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette {Columbus, Ohio Food Tour}

This Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette is beautiful, using simple ingredients that let this dish shine.

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

I was late to get acquainted. But year after year, I am falling harder and harder for zucchini. Especially when it’s grilled. I like it charred on the outside and just soft enough to the bite that the rawness is gone.

This Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette has everything going for it. Texture. Flavor. Beauty. Yep, it’s all in there. And a few memories, too. —> Be sure to read on after the recipe, where I share about my recent trip to Columbus, Ohio, where I first experienced this salad. I was on a food tour of the city, and was it ever delicious!

* In this post, I am sharing about my recent stay in Columbus, Ohio. While there, I was a guest of Experience Columbus, who paid for my travel and dining expenses.

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

While visiting Columbus, our group enjoyed an evening in a beautiful kitchen and gathering space called The Kitchen. We took part in a participatory dinner, where we split up into groups to make individual dishes, and then came together in the end to enjoy it all, at the table, together. It was a beautiful way to kick off our time in Columbus.

Glory and I teamed up to create this grilled zucchini salad that evening. And when the meal was over, even after the mixed berry galette, I was still wishing I had just a few more bites of zucchini. This was the recipe I knew would become a staple at home.

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

I just recently purchased a new reversible cast iron griddle/grill pan for stovetop use. It has a very large surface area and is heavy and durable. One side features ridges to mimic grill grates, while the other side is smooth. I used the smooth side for this recipe, but this salad would be beautiful with the grill grate marks as well – and I know we’ll use our outdoor grill to make this recipe, too.

(Here’s the (affiliate) link to the griddle/grill pan, if you’re interested.)

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

This grilled zucchini salad, vibrant with fresh lemon and herbs, makes such a lovely dish. Toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmesan are the final beautiful touches.

I mostly serve this as a side dish, but can also vouch that it makes for a great lunch with a simple piece of crusty bread. Either way, you just can’t go wrong.

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

for the zucchini:

  • 2-1/2 lbs. medium to large zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 T. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. black pepper

for the lemon-herb vinaigrette:

  • 3/4 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 T. honey
  • 1-1/2 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

for the garnish:

  • 1/4 c. shaved Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 T. roughly chopped fresh mint
  • 2 T. roughly chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high to high heat.

for the zucchini:

Brush both sides of each zucchini slice lightly with oil (you may not need all of the oil), and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on hot grill grates or grill pan and cook until beautifully charred and a bit wilted on both sides. Transfer to serving platter.

for the lemon-herb vinaigrette:

In a medium bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, lemon juice and zest, honey, and parsley. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, while whisking vigorously, until combined and emulsified. Drizzle 2/3 of the vinaigrette over zucchini and let set for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.

for the garnish:

Right before serving, drizzle just a bit more of the vinaigrette over the zucchini. Garnish with shaved cheese, toasted pine nuts, and chopped mint and parsley. Serve immediately.

 

Adapted, mostly to make a smaller salad, from The Kitchen in Columbus, Ohio.

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Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

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Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

I recently flew to Columbus, Ohio to meet up with several food blogging friends – some I’ve spent time with before, others I was just meeting for the first time in real life. This event was hosted by my friends Joanne and Lindsay, and organized and sponsored by Experience Columbus.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, as Columbus just wasn’t on my radar as a foodie destination. But I was pleasantly surprised. This city is food-love heaven!

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The previous book case photo and the twinkly-lighted dining table photo above are from our first evening in Columbus, where we cooked and ate together in German Village, at The Kitchen. (This is where Glory and I made the grilled zucchini salad.) The space was incredible, simplistically beautiful with not much more than wood floors and brick walls – and a heavenly kitchen set-up. Really, what more does a person need?!

The Kitchen is perfect for all kinds of events – think private party, a participatory dining experience with friends or co-workers, and catering. They do it all, and so very well.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The next morning, Nick from Breakfast with Nick took our group by the reins and showed us a few of his favorite breakfast spots. I highly recommend checking out Nick’s site if you’re planning a visit to Columbus. He’s got all the goods on how to eat well in this city!

Our first stop: Kolache Republic, also in German Village. I hadn’t had a good kolache in over 20 years, so this was a welcomed place to start.

If you’re not familiar with kolaches, they are a pillowy pastry made of slightly sweet dough baked with a variety of fruit, nut, sweet cheese, and meat fillings. At Kolache Republic, their dough is proofed three times and then rolled by hand. The heritage behind this shop is Czech, while the ones I remember were from a Polish family. All the same concept. All delicious. (Although I’m partial to the ones involving apples and/or cream cheese.)

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Next up: Fox in the Snow, in Italian Village.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

If I lived in Columbus, I would want to visit this bakery/coffee shop for coffee, breakfast, and lunch any chance I could get. Housed in a renovated mason garage, it has all the right looks. And the baked goods and hand-poured coffee drinks are nothing short of fabulous. If you go, try a super soft cinnamon roll slathered with cream cheese frosting or one of their breakfast sandwiches – that bread is AMAZING!!

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

If you’re a PB and chocolate fan, and can appreciate a good donut when you find it, then you MUST seek out Buckeye Donuts – where you can grab a buckeye donut!

Of course, they make all kinds of other donuts, too. But that buckeye donut is the one I find myself craving.

Located in the heart of Ohio State University, this shop has been serving up donuts made by hand daily, in this same exact spot since 1969. They’re open 24-7, often sporting a line of donut-loving fans out the door and down the street.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Next we visited The Table, a beautifully eclectic space that prides itself in being a farm to table restaurant inspired by world flavors. This restaurant works closely with farmers & urban gardeners to share the freshest produce, and is proud to craft their baked goods & charcuterie in house.

My favorite breakfast dish here was the brioche French toast with sour cherries and whipped cream. I took a look at their dinner menu – and I was wishing I could also enjoy dinner and a cocktail there one evening. I know it would be super lovely.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The Market Italian Village served us the most gorgeous bowl of wood-fired shakshouka, with a spiced tomato sauce, poached egg, feta, crispy chickpeas, and house pita. It was a nice change from all the sweets, with an enticing aroma that had me leaning over my bowl extra-close, inhaling slowly and deeply. This was one of my favorite dishes from the trip.

It would be wonderful to live around the corner from The Market Italian Village, which has a little bit of everything good. An urban eatery, old-world market, deli counter, and coffee shop all under one roof.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Ahhhhh…what a peaceful scene.

We traveled a bit outside of Columbus to Rockmill Brewery, where this view is available just down the hill from the tasting room. Located on a former horse farm, the setting is quite picturesque.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Beside the stream is a little ol’ chapel. People still get married here!

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Our first sampling of Rockmill Brewery’s creations was the Petite Saison, a perfectly light and summery brew.

The tasting room’s long farmhouse table was lined with several beautifully presented charcuterie boards, each with a variety of delicious nibbles. I’m not usually a person who goes back for seconds on pâté, but their bacon rillette made of bacon braised in wit bier, was outstanding in both texture and flavor. I ate three pieces. :)

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

We tried a number of other brews, but the one that had me sipping with the most intrigue was their stout. Made of roasted barley, and tasting ever so slightly of anise, it was definitely different than other stouts I’ve tasted. I liked it.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

And then we ended our day (yes, all of that was in one day!) with a distillery tour and dinner at Watershed Distillery.

This distillery creates a variety of spirits, including vodka, gin, and bourbon. We were able to sample their creations, and the one that especially stood out for me was the Nocino. It is an aged liqueur originating from a Northern Italian recipe. Made with locally sourced, un-husked black walnuts, sugar, and spices, it seemed like just the kind of thing to sip around the fire on a cold, blustery winter’s evening.

The distillery’s Kitchen & Bar are located right inside the same building as their production facility. The space was stunning, with a huge wall of glass gazing into the distillery. We enjoyed so many good things to eat that evening (including those tempura fried dilly beans above), along with some gorgeously crafted cocktails featuring their spirits.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The next morning we arrived at Flowers & Bread, a unique Columbus spot featuring bread baking, a flower studio, and a café. We met Sarah Black, famed NYC baker and author of (affiliate link) One Dough, Ten Breads, who recently moved back to Columbus. We stenciled fresh dough with Sarah in the kitchen and then enjoyed the little baked breads with a soup lunch later.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

And we played with flowers, to create live flower necklaces. Such a creative and peaceful activity – I wish I could do this every single week!

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Then we visited North Market, a historic indoor public market with dozens of food vendors, produce stands, etc. I get giddy over these kinds of markets!

Left: Hot Chicken Takeover, featuring Nashville Hot Chicken in Columbus. That cup of banana pudding was AMAZING.

Middle: Prēzel, a gourmet pretzel company specializing in hand-rolled Bavarian-style pretzels featuring creative pairings while preserving old favorites. I am not the biggest pretzel fan, but that Asiago, Herb & Cracked Pepper Pretzel was fantastic!

Right: With a collaboration between The Barrel & Bottle and Black Radish Creamery, we enjoyed pairings of Ohio-made brews and cheeses. You know me. This was right up my alley. It’s great fun for me to see how people pair up food and drink.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Also inside North Market, we visited:

Left: Pistacia Vera, a special dessert destination in Columbus from a brother-and-sister team. Of course, I had to try the buckeye macaron – and it was as delicious as I was anticipating. All of their creations looked wonderful.

Middle: Little Eater, featuring a vegetable-centric restaurant and fresh produce grocery, founded by Chef Cara Mangini. And. We even got to meet Cara. I’ve had my eye on her book (affiliate link), The Vegetable Butcher, and was so incredibly happy to take a copy home with me.

Right: North Market Spices, the place to tickle your spice-bud fancy. Wow. They offered so many spices and fun blends – I wish those shelves were my home pantry!

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

I had waited A VERY LONG TIME for my first scoop of Jeni’s ice cream. And then, to top it all off, we actually had the pleasure of meeting Jeni. This woman is a go-getter, extremely passionate about making only the very best ice cream. We were able to sample as many of the ice creams as we wished…and I did try nearly all of them!

Jeni: “When I was 10 years old I learned to sew. And I sewed a sweatshirt. That’s what taught me that I can really make ANYTHING.”

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

And this is the collection of full-size scoops that I ordered after all the sampling…

  • Top: salted peanut butter with chocolate flecks
  • Right: black cat espresso
  • Bottom: sun-popped corn
  • Left: salty caramel

The sun-popped corn was one of the last ice creams that I sampled, and I almost didn’t even try it, thinking it just wasn’t my thing. But this ice cream ended up being the one that delighted me most. If I could have taken home a gallon in my suitcase, I would have!

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Our final evening’s dinner was spectacular at Basi Italia. Casual and super cozy around a long covered table on the back patio, this is how I wish meals could always be. The restaurant’s owner sat and talked with us, insisting we try their zucchini salad and eggplant parmesan to start off. Both dishes were perfection – and that’s saying alot – because I do NOT like eggplant, yet couldn’t stop eating it. And my main entrée of prosciutto wrapped scallops was incredible, with strawberries, sweet peas, parsnip, and mint. This. This was my favorite meal from my Columbus experience.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The next morning, before heading to the airport for home, we ate breakfast at the most eclectic, funky little place. Katalina’s is housed in a tiny 100-year-old gas station, where you’ll find every wall, every table top, covered in ink. You are expected to sign your name before you leave.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Katalina’s breakfast menu has my name written all over it, serving up “Latin-leaning and Southern slanted” dishes. We tried a number of items from the menu and my favorite was Ms. Katalina’s Migas (on the left) – where eggs are scrambled with crema, ranchero sauce, crushed chips, and pepitas, and then topped with queso fresco & green onions. And. Avocado toast, for the win!

Katalina’s is also Home Of the Original Pancake Balls™ (on the right). You can order them filled with Nutella, dulce de leche, or pumpkin-apple butter. Hot and fresh and delish!

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Here’s the crew I was hanging out with in Columbus, in a photo taken at Rockmill Brewery. Front row, left to right, Allie from Baking a Moment, Laura from A Beautiful Plate , Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil, Joanne from Fifteen Spatulas, Erin from Well Plated, Phillip from Southern FATTY. Back row, left to right, Rockmill Brewery, Glory from Glorious Treats, me, Jen from Savory Simple, and Michael from Inspired by Charm.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour - Hote LeVeque - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

And last, but definitely not least, I big sparkly shout-out to Hotel LeVeque for a most beautiful stay in Columbus. Built in 1927, the recently renovated LeVeque tower offers both luxury and simple comfort.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour - Hote LeVeque - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The entire hotel centers around a celestial theme. With each new pass of the lobby and my room, I noticed yet one more starry element. From the light fixtures to the wallpaper to the artwork hanging on the wall, I found myself seeking these pieces out, like a game.

Left: My room, as seen from the entrance door. This was my favorite view…down the hall, to the window and pretty yellow chair. Not shown is the king bed, plus a bathroom the size of my kitchen – with marble tile and a separate room for the shower and a separate room for the toilet.

Middle: Nightly turndown service includes these dark chocolate ganache pieces of heaven. And a star projector, to illuminate the heavens above your bed when you turn off the lights. Did I just mention heaven again?

Right: Sitting in the lobby, looking up. Giant windows. Starry lights.

Columbus, Ohio Food Tour from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

I found Columbus to be so much more than I ever expected. It is eclectic, in the most authentic way. From the historic German and Italian villages with their charming brick streets and lovingly restored homes, to the innovative food scene that includes quaint coffee shops and award-winning craft breweries, to the stunning renovations of historic buildings such as Hotel LeVeque, this is one amazing city. I am so grateful to have experienced it.

Thank you to Experience Columbus for sponsoring this food tour of your beautiful city, including my travel and dining expenses. I was not compensated to write this post. All opinions are my own.

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