With the weather heating up here in Southern California, these are salad days to be sure.
A digression: If you’ve ever wondered about that expression, “salad days” has Shakespearean origins. In Antony and Cleopatra, a rueful Cleopatra laments her youthful inexperience and recklessness– “…my salad days/when I was green in judgment, cold in blood….” Over time, the expression has changed in meaning. In American usage, the term now refers to a time when a person is at the peak of her abilities–her heyday.
If you have a bounty of summer squash (or a generous neighbor with a garden), here is an idea for a wonderful fresh summer salad that you won’t regret putting on your table. And, trust me, this salad recipe works on many delicious levels. I am particularly fond of the lemony/garlicky vinaigrette that “cooks” the squash ribbons and of the bite that the arugula gives to the finished dish. Then, there are the roasted almonds…
I recently bought a new mandoline and was anxious to try it out with this recipe. I confess that I have a bit of a mandoline phobia, but I read a review for this new mandoline, the OXO Chef’s Mandoline 2.0, and was convinced it might fit into my kitchen routine. (The 2.0 incorporates some safely features that my fancy–and expensive– French mandoline doesn’t have.) In this recipe, I was able to (safely) cut the beautiful symmetrical ribbons of squash that you see in the photo of the dish. Who knows? With my new mandoline in hand, there may be no stopping me with this summer’s bounty of beautiful vegetables! Here is the link to the review of the mandoline: OXO Chef’s Mandoline 2.0 Review from Epicurious.
My good luck this year is that my neighbors (and good friends) Sarah and Gene are growing the the mothers of all squash plants in their backyard garden. To my delight, I was able to make this salad with fresh-off-the-vine produce.
Predictably, my friends are struggling to measure up to the challenge of using (or giving away) the increasingly-large output of their three plants. Today, an exasperated Sarah was showing off a two-pound squash that had hidden itself among the leaves of one of her plants. She has a very long way to go before the Guinness World Record people register her squashes in their record books, though. The world’s largest zucchini on record was grown by Bernard Lavery of Plymouth Devon in the UK. That zucchini measured 69 1/2 inches long, and weighed 65 lbs. –something like this. Whoa!
You are probably sitting there reading this blog and wondering how Sarah’s squash compares.To give you an idea of the size of Sarah’s admittedly early entry into the squash competition, we enlisted the help of a reluctant (and more than a little bit cranky) five pound Juliet. You only have to look at that normally sweet little face to understand that Juliet fails to see the humor in being compared to a zucchini. As I counseled her, sometimes life just isn’t fair.
Juliet needs a hug.
This recipe is adapted from one I learned in a recent cooking class at Costa Mesa’s wonderful Sur La Table Cooking School.
Yields 4 Servings
20 minPrep Time
20 minTotal Time
- 1 pound small zucchini (a mix of green and yellow)
- 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove (minced to a paste)
- Sea salt
- 3 ounces arugula
- 3 ounces pecorino toscano or parmesan cheese (shaved)
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/4 C. toasted sliced almonds
- Using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler, slice squash into ribbons. Set aside.
- Whisk oil and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Add garlic paste and sea salt. Lemons vary in their acidity, so you may want to adjust the amount of the lemon juice in your dressing to your taste. Pour this dressing over the squash you have sliced and allow the squash to marinate in the dressing for at least five minutes. The squash will begin to soften.
- Mix arugula and cheese into the squash mixture. Adjust seasonings.
- To serve, arrange the salad on a pretty serving plate. Sprinkle toasted almonds over the salad and enjoy.
I've found that lemons vary in the acidity of their juice. To my taste, this salad dressing is best when it has a real sour bite. My recommendation is that you taste the dressing after it has been allowed to sit and mature and add extra lemon juice to your taste.