It’s that time of year again. That special time when you come home after a long day at the office, arms full of parcels from running post-work errands, only to trip on something on your front doorstep.
It’s Someone-Left-Zucchini-On-My-Doorstep season again.
Personally, I haven’t tripped on any zucchini, pattypan and other summer squash just yet, but I have in the past and I know it’s coming. I don’t mind, really – after all, who can say no to fresh summer produce right out of the garden? And in a season when fruit seems to take center stage, it’s nice to have a source for free veggies.
But until my friends & neighbors start leaving tasty obstacles on my doorstep, I make do with all the beautiful squash being sold at ye olde farmer’s market. With prices like $1/lb for mix-n-match squash (and peaches, and apricots, and…), how can one go wrong?
I scored a nice bunch of these beauties over the weekend with no particular recipe in mind. I like to let my produce inspire me rather than the other way ’round, especially in the summertime when the markets are resplendent with fresh, vibrant, just-picked fruits & vegetables. I chose the smallest ones so they’d be nice & tender (and, let’s face it, cute), making it easy to use them either cooked or raw – a huge plus during the summer when there are days too hot for cooking, or even grilling.
Because of the warmer weather, my stove & I have been seeing a lot less of each other. The long dates we used to have on a nightly basis are now happening just a couple times a week, when I cook up big batches of beans or grains to use in salads & other dishes. And as we enter Scary Week, making a big batch of quinoa to stretch out into different meals is the way to go. It’s beyond nutritious, filling without being overwhelming, and because of its versatility & high yield, very cost-effective
With all that fabulous squash I’d picked up, I was tempted to make my Summer Veggies & Quinoa with Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto. But since I had no nuts in the house whatsoever, I scrapped that pesto-making plan pretty quickly. Instead, I made use of what I had available to me and made a quick, simple salad that required zero cooking now that my quinoa was made. With smoky black beans and crunchy, fresh summer veggies all tossed together in a simple citrus dressing, voila! Dinner - and lunch for the next two days – was served.
All that for less than a buck fi’ty per serving. Gotta love that!
Quinoa, Black Bean & Summer Squash Salad (makes 3-4 servings; total cost per serving: $1.25)
1 c cooked quinoa
3/4 c cooked black beans
1 c chopped assorted summer squash (zucchini, pattypan, etc.)
1/2 c diced red onion
1 large tomato, diced
1/8 c olive oil
1/8 c fresh lemon juice
1/8 c fresh key lime juice
1 T honey
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Prepare the dressing by vigorously whisking together the last five ingredients in a small bowl until completely combined. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add the quinoa, beans, squash, tomato & onion, and toss together. Pour the dressing into the salad and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to let the flavors incorporate.
3. Serve alone, atop a bed of greens, or as a nice side to grilled meats or fish. Enjoy!