As you might have gleaned from the content on the blog as of late, I’m a salad girl. A salad-lovin’ home gardener. Almost everything I grow is meant to be tossed in a big bowl of greens (or maybe even just by themselves, like cucumbers and tomatoes and green onions with dill and basil).
But even salad lovers like me need the occasional break, and summer vegetables don’t disappoint on that account, either. And unlike their needs-a-good-roasting-in-oven autumn counterparts, summer produce cooks up quick and easy.
I’ve been sorely tempted to buy one of those trendy spiral slicers, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet (seems really useful … but something else to store in my space-challenged kitchen). The other day, I pulled out my dusty mandolin, flipped it to the julienne setting that I only at that moment noticed it had, and ran a carrot through it. Cute! No one was more surprised that it worked (I paid, maybe, $15 for the plastic contraption; it does straight cuts only mediocrely. Thanks to some flex in the surface, they come out slanted). Green zucchini and yellow squash went through next and soon I had a nest of the prettiest shoestring vegetables you ever did see.
Sauteed with some onions and garlic, shoestring summer vegetables make a hearty side dish over pretty black beluga lentils (heathy protein!). And to gild the lily, I whisked up a lemon tahini dressing made smoky with a dose of bourbon smoked paprika. The smoky tahini dressing is light and bright, accenting rather than drowning the vegetables with extra flavor. Goes great as a side with grilled chicken, or (as I did) serve as the main dish with a crispy green salad for Meatless Monday.
- 1/4 cup tahini (well stirred)
- 6 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons honey or agave
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup dried beluga lentils
- 2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 zucchinis, ends trimmed
- 2 summer squash, ends trimmed
- 1 large carrot, ends trimmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter, or Earth Balance
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
- Add all dressing ingredients to a blender puree until smooth. Dressing will be thin.
- Bring the 2 cups of a water to boil in a small saucepot. Add the lentils and bay leaf. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cover. Cook 15 to 20 minutes - lentils should be al dente. Drain, return to the pot, and set side to cool to room temperature.
- Use a mandolin, a spiral slicer, a julienne peeler, or mad knife skills to slice the zucchinis, squash, and carrot into thin narrow strips.
- Heat the olive oil (or butter or Earth Balance) in a large skillet until shimmering or melted. Add the onions and sauté for several minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the shoestring vegetables and cook until they become tender and flexible, but not soggy. Turn off the heat. Add two tablespoons of the dressing and stir gently.
- Add one tablespoon of the dressing to the cooled lentils (in the pot) and stir gently.
- To serve, spoon the lentils on a platter. Pile the shoestring vegetables in the center. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve the remaining tahini on the side.