Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer squash & quinoa salad with goat cheese

That husband of mine, let me tell you -- he's a gem!

He's funny and smart (and a smidge nerdy, which I adore), patient and selfless, and so handsome that I sometimes have moments when I check him out and think, "Man, that guy is hot!"  And then I remember that I'm married to that guy.  He's legally bound to me.  How did I manage to trick him get so lucky?  Best keep quiet before somebody notices and cries foul play.

Aside from all of those wonderful meaningful traits, there are so many superficial and silly things I love about Matt.  Like how he giggles like a schoolgirl at the sight of pugs.  And how his hair gets this crazy cowlick on one side of his head.  And how his appetite for goat cheese knows no bounds, especially when it's paired with zucchini.

When I was searching through my recipe archives and choosing labels for this recipe, I realized that we have a serious goat cheese and zucchini... problem?  Addiction?  Obsession?  Whatever you want to call it, we've got it bad.

First, there was the goat cheese and zucchini pizza, which happens to be Matt's favorite pizza of all-time.  Then, we switched up those blessed carbs and devoured gnocchi with zucchini, corn and goat cheese.  And, lest you think I stick to the same old recipe again and again, I swapped zucchini for asparagus and made pasta with goat cheese and chicken.

(For all of my recipes featuring goat cheese, click here.)

Apologies for the link overload, but it's for a good cause.  Goat cheese on goat cheese on goat cheese, y'all!

It was actually the pizza that inspired this dish, which is the ultimate summer-friendly meal thanks to loads of fresh zucchini and no need for a hot oven/kitchen/house.  Are you on board?  You better be, 'cause this is going to knock your socks sandals off.

One new-to-me trick was tossing the sliced squash with salt and letting it rest for a few minutes.  The salt pulls out the excess moisture from the fruit and makes it nice and tender without boiling, cooking, or other heat.  You've gotta try this.

What results is light and super satisfying dish.  Tender zucchini and yellow squash, fluffy quinoa, creamy goat cheese, crunchy walnuts, and a tangy lemony dressing.  So fresh and so refreshing, you feel me?  Delicious at lunch, delicious at dinner.  Delicious cold and warm.  And it's even travel- and picnic-friendly.  This summer squash and quinoa salad is basically a culinary hero.

There's a reason we can't get enough of the zucchini and goat cheese combo -- it's delicious and kind of addictive.  Like, stand-over-the-counter-and-sneak-forkful-after-forkful addictive.

Thankfully, I've got husband who won't judge me for doing so; instead, he'll join in on the feeding frenzy.  Heck, he doesn't even expect me to share my fork and grabs his own.  How did I get so lucky? :)

One year ago: Matt's ranch pretzels
Two years ago: Santa Fe BBQ chicken pizza
Three years ago: Chocolate wafer sandwich cookies (a.k.a. homemade Oreos)
Four years ago: Fish tacos with tropical mango salsa

Summer Squash & Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese
-feeds 4-5 as a side dish or 2-3 as an entree

2 small-medium summer squash (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup quinoa (I used red), rinsed and drained
1 cup low sodium chicken broth (or water)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Slice squash into 1/8th inch rounds.  Add squash and 2 teaspoons of salt to a large bowl and toss to coat.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes until squash is slightly wilted.  Rinse squash and arrange on paper towels and pat dry.

In a small saucepan, combine broth and quinoa and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove saucepan from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Remove lid, fluff with fork, and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice and olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  In a large bowl, combine quinoa, squash, basil, walnuts, and dressing.  Using fingers, break up and crumble goat cheese into bowl, and toss to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.  Enjoy!

Salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days and can be served warm or cold.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds delish and I love that there is no baking which means no heat in the house!