I’ve been on a bit of a salad kick lately, as y’all probably noticed — but not salads made of lettuce, or mache, or anything leafy, even. I’m currently obsessed with whatever I can put together in a bowl, and still get away with calling it a salad. The French would scoff, no doubt, at my liberties taken with the word salade, which is what lettuce is called here, but I digress.
Back to today’s recipe.
No big surprise, I’ve once again roasted my veggies — in this case, a beautiful eggplant, a couple of zucchini, and a big, fat red bell — and I did this early in the day, before it got too hot to turn on the oven (yesterday it was 91, which is fine if you’ve got air conditioning, which we don’t, and even tolerable at night if you can keep the sliding doors open, which we can’t, because of Miss Mouse who seems to dart in and out at will when we’re fast asleep).
You’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute — isn’t she from Texas? How can she be complaining about the heat in Paris? Oh please. Cry me a river.”
Well, y’all, I’m not complaining per se; I’m merely pointing out the fact that when you’re living la vida aria condizionata, you sing a different tune in the summertime. You can still bake cookies if you want and not be standing in a pool of your own sweat two hours later. You can turn on the oven in the middle of the day.
Instead, I’m trying to be strategic about my oven usage, and think cool — which means bowls full of things that I’ll keep calling salads, along with chilly soups and smoothies, and lots and lots of ice cream.
Summer Veggie Salad with Quinoa
Makes two dinner-size or four side-size portions
1 medium eggplant
2 medium zucchini
1 large red bell pepper
85 grams (about 3 oz) feta
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
225 grams (1 cup or 8 oz) quinoa
1 recipe E-Z Dijon vinaigrette, recipe follows
6-10 basil leaves, roughly torn
6-10 mint leaves, roughly torn
Preheat oven to broil.
1. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch discs and lay out on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Cut the zucchini into three inch pieces, then cut these in quarters, length-wise, then cut each quarter. Lay out the zucchini flesh-side up on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, too. Cut the red bell pepper into thick, 1-inch wide strips and then cut 1-inch pieces. Lay out skin side up on a separate cookie sheet, lined with parchment. Drizzle the pieces of red bell and zucchini with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook these veggies one cookie sheet at a time, watching carefully so they don’t burn. When roasted, let cool on pans, then place in a large bowl and refrigerate if necessary (if you’re making this way in advance, for instance).
2. Make the quinoa. Put 2 cups water onto boil. When water boils, add quinoa, a pinch of salt, and turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Set the timer for 10 minutes. When the buzzer goes off, check and see if the quinoa has absorbed all of the water (it should have). Turn off heat, cover pot, and let cool. When cool, fluff the quinoa and put in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge.
3. Assemble the salad. Grab your serving bowls and put a couple of large spoonfuls in each one. Now, get your bowl of veggies, add the herbs, feta and vinaigrette, and toss. Serve on top of the quinoa.
E-Z Dijon Vinaigrette
⅓ cup sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I often use a coarse grain mustard)
1 teaspoon shallots, minced
1 teaspoon fresh herbs, such as thyme, basil, parsley (optional)
⅔ cup olive oil
1. Put everything but the olive oil in a jar (I always use old jam jars for my dressings) and shake until combined.
2. Add oil, shake again, taste, and adjust for seasonings if necessary.