Angela and I don't see each other much during the week but I don't work Fridays, and Fridays are for dinner-for-two. Recently it's been pizza and beer because, really, who wants to cook at the end of a long week, but now that we've settled more or less into our new apartment and now that our kitchen is (comparatively) frikkin huge, I'm starting to cook again. Also, there's nothing good on TV during the summer. Ahem.
(For those of you keeping score, that was my off-hand explanation as to why I haven't posted in 6 months. Sorry about that.)
I was raised in a household were every meal was balanced, even if balance meant burgers and fries and a salad. I have very few active dislikes from the vegetable kingdom, cauliflower being the big one, the I-don't-care-how-much-cheese-you-put-on-it, I'm-not-eating-it one, and that's more of a texture issue than anything else - eating cauliflower is like chewing on brined tree bark and I want nothing to do with it.
And despite the fact that I'll eat practically anything, there are some vegetables that, for whatever reason, weren't around when I was growing up. Zucchini was one of them - I had a habit of confusing zucchini and cucumber until embarrassingly recently because, hey, they're both green and phallic and waxy and I couldn't for the life of me remember a situation where I had the two at-hand at the same time to reenforce their differences.
Laugh if you want, but I guarantee if you think about it, you've got a similar hang-up that "normal" people (not me; I'm a gentleman) think is batty.
Anyway. Summer's here, and summer means good produce, and good produce means I can throw a little of the balance that's been lacking in our diets back into the rotation.
We had zucchini in the fridge and I needed something to go along with the pork chops (Yes, pork chops. I'm still me, after all) and this:
...is what I came up with. It's a zucchini salad, light and crisp and hassle-free in the extreme. It helps to have a whiskey barrel filled with herbs outside, but if you don't have any fresh green leafy things lying around, use dried ones. You're not going to be cooking this (although you can if you want to; see below) so the balance may be tricky to pull off.
Give it a whirl.
1/2 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, ideally something colorful and over-sweet, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Parsley, a heavy pinch or two should do
Fresh sage, 2 leaves, chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
This is so simple it's ridiculous - take those ingredients, put them in a bowl, mix them up by hand and put it in the fridge for a bit. Tada! Salad.
If you're more in the mood for a warm vegetable, heat some oil in a pan, toss the salad in and cook it until the zucchini is cooked through. Or bake it. Or stir fry it. It really is a versatile collection of ingredients - it'll turn into whatever you want it to after the application of a little gentle heat.
I don't tend to get specific about salt and pepper, but here (like on any salad) freshly ground pepper and kosher salt make a difference - you want them to stand out instead of blending in with the background.