Here’s another Guest Test Kitchen for ya! This month, our dear friend James shares one of his favorite recipes and cooking inspirations. He shows how your favorite recipe can be jazzed up or tweaked to fit any occasion and season, and how sexy a simple squash salad can be. This dish would be a fabulous contribution to any summer meal gathering. Plus, it’s vegetarian so everyone can love it. Enjoy!
“I follow two food blogs: The Duo Dishes (obviously) and Heidi Swanson’s excellent 101 Cookbooks. And while I look to the Duo for new flavors and sweet treats, 101 Cookbooks is my go-to source for healthy, tasty, everyday dishes that will get me through the week. Heidi’s recipes are healthy as well as wonderfully adaptable.
Last winter, I made her ribollita at least twice, then tried my own Mexican take with black beans and pasilla peppers. She does quite a bit of cooking with quinoa, which is one of my favorite whole grains, and I’ve adapted a few of her quinoa skillet recipes. But my favorite 101 Cookbooks recipe – one I’ve been nervous about adapting – is for a roasted pumpkin salad. I’ve made it probably half a dozen times, and have followed the recipe fairly closely. It’s so good that, until now, I’ve never wanted to mess with it.
But it’s a fall dish, and it’s 90 degrees outside, and why not try something new for the summer? So I took Heidi’s dish, swapped a few things, lightened it up, and suddenly had grilled summer squash salad. It’s light, refreshing and summery, and it pairs well with summer beer. Anchor Summer Beer is perfect with this dish.”
Grilled Summer Squash Salad (Adapted from 101 Cookbooks) – Serves 2-4
1 1/3 cups wild rice
2 yellow squash
1 zucchini squash
1 medium-large Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha hot sauce
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Before doing anything else, start cooking the wild rice according to the package directions. Cooking times vary, but I usually assume it will take an hour. Once your rice is going, remove the ends from the zucchini and summer squash. Cut each squash in half lengthwise and cut into half-inch-thick pieces. Cut the onion into eight wedges. Combine onion and squash in a bowl and toss with regular olive oil. Season with two generous pinches of salt, the dried thyme and pepper to taste.
Start a grill or preheat your oven’s broiler. (Grilling is best, but I used a broiler because my apartment complex is run by Smokey Bear.) If grilling, use a vegetable pan. Grill or broil the squash and onions for 10 to 15 minutes or until the onions begin to brown. Set aside.
When the rice is tender, drain any excess water and transfer to a large bowl. Add the onion and squash mixture, the extra virgin olive oil, sriracha, most of the chopped cilantro, the juice of one and a half lemons and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and lemon half. Serve warm. (It’s also great cold and makes excellent leftovers. I like it on its own cold, or warmed up and served over a bed of spinach.)