Phew! Summer is here. Well, officially it’s not here for a little while longer, but since it started hitting 90+ degrees in my neck of the woods around Memorial Day, it certainly feels like summer. And when it’s summer, the last thing I want to do is heat up my kitchen while making long, involved dishes. I’m guessing some of you are thinking the same thing.
So, what to do? Well, I’ve been making lots of Farmer’s Market Salad for dinner. Basically, this involves hitting the local farmer’s market and picking up whatever looks good, and then making it into a salad. In the nice little southern town where I grew up, the word “salad” basically meant either (1)tossed salad with iceberg lettuce, anemic tomatoes and perhaps a cucumber, (2) something starchy wallowing in mayonnaise, or (3) something suspended in jello – this last one always ran the risk of being the dreaded lime jello-spinach combo.
Thankfully, my dear husband grew up in the south of France and from him I learned that good salad can be any combination of vegetables and even (!) fruit. This made dinner so much more creative. This time of year, there aren’t too many fresh salad greens left in season, but I can get radishes, peas, berries, onions, fennel and even some of the first tomatoes of the year. Yum!
In addition to the salads, I also like making quick hot dishes. This one with spaghetti squash is a huge favorite of mine. You’ll need a spaghetti squash, some garlic (either powder or a couple of minced cloves), fresh chopped parsley, shredded parmesan cheese and olive oil (I like the flavor of extra virgin, but if you don’t, light olive oil works too).
First poke about 5-6 holes in the spaghetti squash. Then put it on a paper towel-lined plate in the microwave and cook it. The cooking time depends on the size of the squash so I just zap it for 2 minute intervals until it’s done. When the squash is done, you’ll see liquid coming out of the holes and the rind will lose some of its firmness. It usually takes 6-10 minutes.
Let the squash cool briefly and then cut in half longwise. Use a fork to pull out the strands of squash spaghetti and place in large bowl. Season to taste with the olive oil, parmesan, garlic and fresh parsley, and toss everything together. A hint of black pepper is good on this, too. Enjoy!
Serving suggestion – This time of year, I enjoy a nice tomato salad with the squash. I just pick up different types of tomatoes at the market (small sweet grape tomatoes, full-sized tomatoes in red, yellow and orange), chop them up and add a simple vinaigrette. I make my own vinaigrette with light olive oil, white wine vinegar with dijon mustard mixed in to taste. If you want your tomato salad to be a little less soggy, pull out the tomato seeds on the larger tomatoes and discard.
– Lynn Spencer