In the spring and summer time, my husband and I like to experiment making different kinds of salads for lunch. We try different combinations of fruits, vegetables, oils and cheeses to come up with light and satisfying salads that we eat out on our patio. This is my new favorite! I love summer squash… I like it grilled, roasted, stuffed, pureed, etc. The thing I like most about it is that it’s almost entirely water so they’re super low in calories (one cup of raw squash is under 20 calories) so I can get a big “bang for my buck” so to speak. This salad combines baby zucchini and pattypan squashes, tossed with fresh basil and teardrop tomatoes, then drizzled with a thyme infused olive oil and sprinkled with softened goat cheese. This recipe once again utilizes our french mandoline slicer, but if you don’t have one you can just cut thin slices with a knife.
Start by making the thyme oil. Gather up a generous handful of thyme sprigs (about 3/4 ounces) and use the dull end of a knife to bruise the leaves. Add the sprigs to a small saucepan with 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. Cover and heat over medium heat until small bubbles appear. Turn off heat, and steep the thyme covered for about 20 minutes. Discard the sprigs but leave any thyme leaves that have fallen off. You’ll only need 2 tbsp of this thyme oil, so keep the rest in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week. (It’s great to dip a crusty bread into!) Next, in a large mixing bow, combine 6 ounces mixed teardrop tomatoes (you can cut them if they’re bigger, otherwise just leave them whole), 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (torn into pieces for the larger ones), a pinch of red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper. Shave on the thinnest setting of the mandoline: 2 baby zucchini (about 3 ounces) and 4 baby pattypan squashes (yellow and green). Add these to the mixing bowl. (If you can’t find pattypan squash, just use yellow or green zucchini). Make the dressing by whisking together the 2 tbsp thyme oil, the zest and juice from 1/2 lemon and a pinch of salt. Pour half the dressing into the mixing bowl and toss.
Place the salad onto a platter and sprinkle with about 1/3 cup softened goat cheese. If you don’t like goat cheese, ricotta is a really good alternative. Drizzle with the rest of the dressing and serve!