Zucchini and quinoa salad with walnuts
G. and I hosted our first cookout at his house last night. He has been saying for years that he was going to put a dance floor in the pole barn, and then we would host parties and have people over to dance. He started working on the dance floor in November, but then he put the wrong finish on. A guy recommended an “excellent” finish widely used on gymnasium floors. Unfortunately, neither he nor G. thought about the fact that gyms need non-skid surfaces for athletes who are running, and dance floors need to be somewhat slippery for turns. The floor was so sticky, we were twisting our knees and ankles.
G. took it apart in the spring, resanded it and put it back together. Then we had weeks and weeks of near 100-degree weather, making it too hot to dance in the barn, which isn’t air-conditioned.
But with the summer passing quickly, I decided we needed to just pick a date. We settled on Aug. 1 and told everyone that at the very least, we’d have a cookout and we would dance if it was cool enough.
The weather cooperated! We had rain last week, which cooled things down, and the high yesterday was only in the 80s. The barn is insulated, so it’s cooler than the outside. It was still a bit muggy, but with an industrial fan, we were able to get by.
We had snacks while G. grilled; it was his first time cooking for a group. Then we had burgers and salads. And then we danced. A couple of friends brought cookies and brownies, but everyone was so full by then, that most got sent home with people.
My favorite salad of the evening was a zucchini, quinoa and walnut dish made with a slightly modified recipe from Bon Appetit. Here it is:
Zucchini, quinoa and walnut salad
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound zucchini or summer squash (I used zucchini from our garden.)
1/4 cup (or more) shaved Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil (The magazine uses 6 tablespoons, but I cut it.)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn
Bring the quinoa and 4 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, return to pan, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, cut zucchini into 1/8-inch slices. Put them in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and let stand for 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.
Whisk parmesan, zest, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil in a bowl.
Combine zucchini, quinoa, walnuts and basil in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. I garnished it with slices of shaved Parmesan.