extra virgin olive oil
6 small zucchini (about 900g), trimmed and cut diagonally into 1cm-thick slices
sea salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3 sweetcorn cobs (about 900g), husks removed
1 big handful mint leaves
1 big handful basil leaves
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 cup basil leaves
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
60g (¼ cup) tahini
sea salt

When charred, zucchini becomes smoky and seductive. Cooking it at a high temperature draws out moisture and concentrates the sweet, earthy flavours. Teamed with crispy, charred sweetcorn in this vibrant salad, this dish flies the flag for easy summer eating. If you have a barbecue, you can cook the zucchini and corn on there to get that smoky char, though cooking on the stovetop will yield excellent, deep flavours, too. I always add a touch of vinegar to my charred zucchini – this really amplifies the sweetness of the fruit. The dressing has an undeniable ‘caesar’ vibe – acidic and herbaceous, rich with basil, citrus and briny capers. Roll with this feeling and add some crunchy croutons and top with a salty cheese, if you like.

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1.Heat a frying pan or chargrill pan over medium–high heat.
2.Drizzle with olive oil and, working in batches, add the zucchini, season with a pinch of sea salt and a few turns of black pepper and pan-fry for 2 minutes until golden and charred.
3.Flip over and char the other side.
4.Transfer the zucchini to a colander, drizzle with the red wine vinegar and set aside.
5.Drizzle more olive oil into the same pan and add the sweetcorn.
6.Season with sea salt and pan-fry, turning often, for 8–10 minutes, until all sides are slightly charred.
7.When cool enough to handle, slice the kernels off the cobs using a sharp knife.
8.To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse a few times, until it becomes a thick paste.
9.Add 80ml (⅓ cup) of water and blend or process until smooth. Taste and season with sea salt.
10.To serve, combine the zucchini, corn, mint and basil leaves.
11.Season with sea salt and black pepper and toss to combine.
12.When ready to eat, drizzle the basil caesar-ish dressing over the top and serve immediately.

This is an edited extract
by Hetty Lui McKinnon,

Macmillan Publishers,

RRP $69.99. Food

photography by Hetty

Lui McKinnon, author

photo by Shirley Cai.