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The Hand Off: Summery Squash Salad

2010 August 26

by Brianna Bain

Today I bring you a cool summer squash salad; a different way to prepare an abundantly available seasonal fruit. I had the good fortune to make this dish for gathering  of my Mother’s friends. It is always a pleasure to feed the ones we love , it can also be a true test of taste and integrity.

Sarah’s Veggie Burger Delight set the stage for my raw squash creation, generated from my desire to make a meal entirely from the contents of my CSA box from Tierra Miguel Farm . In the midst of this self imposed challenge I wondered why this seemed so important to me. Other than the obvious need to use what is in my kitchen, I realized that this impulse was rooted in something more than just a playful task. The common denominator in all my kitchen adventures is my understanding of the benefits of local, organic food that is sustainably sourced. It’s my belief that eating this way will make a difference, but this is not everyone’s belief. Last week my belief was put to the test in an op-ed piece from the NYT which discussed the threat of the local food movement “devolving into another one of those self-indulgent — and self-defeating — do-gooder dogmas”. I stopped to think. Was my excitement about the processes of creating my cold summer salad  based on a false sense of  doing good? Had I been persuaded by a pop-culture  do-gooder movement?

I don’t thinks so, I have chosen what makes the most sense for me.  I am aware and mindful of where my food comes from and continue to educate myself. This  thought provoking article helped remind me of the reasons for my food choices. It refreshed my perspective on the danger of absolutes when tying actions to a dynamic and undetermined outcome.  My relationship with food is not just a means to end global warming or the use of petrochemicals in farming. It is a means to a moment, to feel connected to my family, friends, community, land and environment. Food is an intersection for so much more than just nutrition, it touches every part of our lives. The power of food lies in its ability to string together meaningful moments and to help build something good.  When I served my summer squash salad  all of these ideas were reinforced.  The crowed was pleased and lively discussion followed about  local farms, heirloom squash varieties and a local seed saver.  As we put down our forks, I took comfort in the fact that both bellies and minds had been satisfied. I hope this salad can do the same for you.

Summery Squash Salad

Prep time: 30 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 medium heirloom Costata Romanesco squash
  • 5 small to medium yellow summer squash (crooked neck)
  • 10 to 15 plum or cherry tomatoes or 1 large red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 6 ounces goat cheese (soft)
  • 1 large sweet onion or shallot
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. Begin by chopping squash and tomatoes into bite size pieces, add to large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Sauté chopped onion with grape-seed oil over medium heat until soft and lightly browned
  3. Top squash mixture with warm onions
  4. Top onion with goat cheese and let warmth of onion begin to melt the soft goat cheese.
  5. Stir until goat cheese is evenly distributed.
  6. Finally- Mix in chopped parsley, basil and thyme. Refrigerate for 30-40 min before serving, but can be served immediately if desired.

What I love about squash is the variety of color, shape and flavor. For this recipe I used a combination of a yellow crooked neck squash and heirloom Costata Romanesco. This splendid heirloom variety is known for its  for its distinctive appearance  with ribbed and stripped skin. This Italian zucchini has a unique, slightly nutty flavor and exceptional texture which makes it perfect for eating raw.  Try recreating this salad with different varieties of squash and explore. I would love to hear how yours turns out!

-Brianna