Summer Squash Salad

I don’t mean to brag, but I have the best commute ever. That’s really the wrong word for it. I have the best situation for traveling to & from work: shoes/gear on, I stroll down the hall to the elevator and take a very quick trip down 8 stories. A 5 second jaunt through the beautiful lobby of our building and out into the world. Breathe in the fresh air, and it’s a 5-10 minute walk to the front doors of the building my office is housed in. 5 minutes if I’m running late and hence running to work (ah, that’s why they call it that..) or 10 minutes if I have the opportunity to lightly stroll and take in the quiet moments between home and work life. Yes, I love this situation and don’t plan on changing it anytime soon.

One of the many bonuses of living where I live is the ability to quickly get home at lunch and prepare myself a mid-day meal that beats microwaved dinners and take out – not that there’s anything wrong with either one. Soups can be simmered lightly on the stove. Leftover pizza can be reheated in the toaster oven. And salads can be made on the spot – crisp and fresh – ready to eat greedily. I know I’m spoiled by this situation. Mainly because of the ease of relaxing at home for 45 minutes, but also because on occasion my superb husband fixes me up something tasty to nosh on before I have to head back out the door.

Alas. Kyle is not here for another 2 weeks, so this kid is on her own for lunches. Already it hasn’t been too hard, since I’ve had tons of leftovers (cook enough for 4-6 for 1 person…hmm) to heat up and enjoy while perusing enlightening material such as CBC news Etsy on the internet. But leftovers get boring, even if it’s something different everyday. I want something light and fresh by the end of the week. And thankfully Bon Appetit came to my rescue yet again. Since I have subscriptions to food magazines, I feel I have to make at least a few things out of each issue to get my money’s worth – although having the food mags for *ahem* “food-porn” purposes isn’t really that shameful is it? So when looking through the dog-eared pages of June’s BA issue I saw the recipe for Shaved Summer Squash Salad; and as luck would have it, I had every single ingredient sitting, waiting, wishing to be united for a few brief minutes before I tucked into this delicious looking salad.

The salad is uncomplicated and quick. Easily prepared with enough time to savour each bite before (running) back to the office. You could even omit a cutting board if you have a microplane grater and grate the garlic into the bowl. However, I needed one since I decided to embellish the recipe just a wee bit. Don’t get me wrong. This salad will be fantastic just the way it is. But it’s summer (well in other parts of the world it is), which means plenty of fresh herbs at my mercy. And I want to use them. So I added some fresh thyme to the dressing and a sprinkling of fresh flat-leaf parsley over the prepared salad. They brightened up the dish just enough for me to feel like summer just might make it to our neck of the woods soon…

Shaved Summer Squash Salad

Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2011

I know some people aren’t fond of arugula, but I think the salad needs the peppery greens to balance the cool sweetness of the squash. Omit it if you must, but only substitute with another tender green – anything too crisp (i.e. romaine, iceberg) won’t be as pleasing texturally. Next time I’m going to swap toasted pecans for the almonds. Not because I think they’ll be better, I just like the combination of pecans and zucchini. 

3 Tbsp whole almonds
1 lb summer squash – zucchini (green & yellow)
2 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups arugula
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
pecorino cheese (to shave over salad)

Toast the almonds over medium heat until lightly browned (you’ll probably be able to smell them, and then you’ll know their done), then lightly chop.

Trim the ends of the squash. With a vegetable peeler, peel thin strips off the squash (lengthwise) and transfer to a large serving bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the squash ribbons and let stand for 2-5 minutes. Add the arugula and lightly toss. Sprinkle the parsley and almonds over the salad and then top with shavings of pecorino.

Serves 4.

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