Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Farmers Market and Summer Squash Salad

I have been traveling a lot as of late for work so it was such a fantastic relief to spend a lazy weekend at home finally. Husband was out of town, the weather was gorgeous, and I was still on another time zone so when I popped out of bed at an absurdly early hour on Saturday I decided to do something I rarely get to….explore the SF Ferry Building farmers’ market before the tourists arrive en masse! Now this particular farmers market is one of the more fancy pants ones…meaning it’s by no means an economical shopping option, but the setting can’t be beat and the selection is delectable. Thus, I spent my very early morning hours wandering glassy eyed about the stalls of produce, fresh cheese and other mouth watering, tasty options.

The squash I had found was just beautiful. I picked up 5 or 6 different types in bright greens and yellows and all different shapes and sizes. The goat cheese was also a major find. The farmer was a lovely man who quite honestly, very closely resembled one of his own goats, endearing to say the least. He was hawking a cheese that was to die for, soft and creamy; he had made it only the day before! I immediately bought a hunk.  Then I stumbled across the tomatoes. I know, it’s absolutely not tomato season, but you wouldn’t know that by tasting these ruby beauties!

With all this gorgeous fresh food I went about creating something fun to eat. After a morning of sun and farmers, it seemed only fitting to turn my market booty into something summery and fresh. The result was a grilled summer squash salad, a bright, colorful salad bursting with flavor that took next to no time to make. Grilling the squash helps keep its sweet flavor while adding a fun look of grill marks and that essence of summer. The tomatoes added a major juicy boost while the soft crumbles of tangy fresh goat cheese, fresh green basil, some indulgent prosciutto and a lemon and balsamic dressing came together to make an irresistible dish. I served it with a fantastic salmon (a recipe I shall have to share soon) but could easily find a million homes for this one. It was so good! And very healthy (leaving room for the copious amounts of mac n cheese I ate the next day…another future post). So hit up your local farmers market or favorite produce section because this one is a major winner!

Grilled Summer Squash Salad

(A Girl and Her Kitchen)

1-2 lbs of assorted summer squash
3-5 ripe campari tomatoes, quartered (could also use cherry tomatoes, halved)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 small handful fresh basil, chopped (or chiffonade if feeling fancy)
Zest of 1 lemon
4 oz fresh goat cheese (could substitute with Parmesan shavings)
2 slices of prosciutto (optional)

Cut squash into large pieces (round ones cut into thick discs, long ones in half or thick slabs). In a small bowl, mix a few tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Brush each pieces of squash with a little bit of the olive oil mixture on both sides. Place on a hot grill (or your handy Cuisinart griddler). Cook for 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, until the squash has nice grill marks and is tender; you want the squash a bit soft in the middle and cooked through but not falling apart.
Remove the squash from the grill and let cool a minute or two. Meanwhile, whish 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with 4 tablespoons of good olive oil (the stuff you save for salads). Add a pinch of salt and pepper and lemon zest and mix to combine. Set aside.

Cut the grilled squash into big chunks. You want the squash and tomatoes to be about the same size.

In a large bowl, mix together the squash and tomatoes, sprinkle basil on top, and dot crumbles of the soft goat cheese all over. Check for seasoning…may need a small pinch of salt, but remember the dressing is not on yet and that has salt in it too. If using prosciutto, tear each slice into smaller bits (think rustic 1 inch tears of prosciutto) and sprinkle across the top. Drizzle dressing over salad and serve.
Note: This salad is absolutely stunning before you toss it so I recommend presenting it before mixing and then toss to combine all ingredients right before eating.


  1. Jennifer,

    Reviewing my e-mails - I'd forgotten about your blog. So tonight, I did the summer squash salad OVER pasta....I slightly less caloric option - Oh so GOOD! thanks for your great ideas and great accompanying prose!

    BJ Coghan

  2. This is a really great salad. I found your blog by chance but your recipes kept me here. I'll be back as often as I can to see what else you've been cooking. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. Love the Griddler shout-out! With no yard or balcony it is the closest I have to a grill and it is a lifesaver:)