So…this is a story of first dates. Went on one of those recently (eye roll, I know). We met at a farmers’ market, walked by all the butchers and bakers and candlestick makers, got the fixings for a lamb burger and went to his place for a hearty brunch.
It was an OK time with an OK guy, but my reaction on the way home was, “When did I become an old fart?!” I started thinking about all my first dates, and what an eclectic mix they’ve been. My *first* first date: I was sixteen. He picked me up in a suit and tie, took me to a nice restaurant, valet parked the car all night, and had first row mezzanine tickets to the stage version of “Les Mis”. No joke. That was my first date ever. You know you’re jealous.
But over the years, just about any 2-3 activities smushed together has been a first date (most notable random combination was “pool hall and Ethiopian restaurant”…yup, that’s a thing). I’ve eaten at Taco Bell and places so expensive prices aren’t on the menu, seen movies ranging from “Starsky and Hutch” to “the Departed” (interesting first-date picks, I know), shot everything from rum to pool. So how in God’s name I ended up going on a date at 9 in the friggin’ morning on a Saturday where I asked butchers quarter-life-yuppie-crisis/Portlandia-esque questions about the slaughtering methods employed at their establishments IS BEYOND ME.
But now to food. At one of the stands was a guy selling home-made “southern” salsas, including a zucchini and butternut squash salsa. It was basically those two vegetables, grilled, chopped to bits, doused in white balsamic and kinda sorta not really seasoned. I’d hardly call it a salsa. BUT it had potential. I decided to roast the same vegetables, throw them in quinoa, season everything and call it a “salad”. And you know what? It works. Makes great, relatively healthy lunches. So, while I’m not sure the guy’s going to work out, at least the meal will. Hope you enjoy.
ROASTED SQUASH AND QUINOA SALAD
- Butternut squash
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
- White balsamic vinegar
- Goat cheese (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450*F. Slice the zucchini and butternut swash thinly and consistently. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Toss in olive oil and roast for 30 minutes.
- While the veggies are roasting, cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the packet (it’s a lot like cooking rice…nothing special).
- When the quinoa and veggies are done, mix. Season liberally [and I mean that. Over-season. Quinoa’s so bland it needs it.] with salt and pepper. Douse in white balsamic.
- Serve cold. Keeps in the refrigerator up to 4 days. (Optional) garnish with goat cheese.