Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Wednesday cricket equals courgette feast!

The Scientist has started playing cricket on Wednesday evenings. He used to play most weekends when we lived in Cambridge but he let it slide when we moved to Lewes as it tended to take over the whole weekend. He missed it though, and he didn't need much persuasion from our friend Paul to join his mid-week club when we moved here. I'm glad he has a hobby he enjoys, and a happy plus side is that his absence on Wednesdays has ushered in a whole new era of Lysy-friendly dinners he wouldn't go near. I knew I wanted tonight's dinner to feature the poor little courgette I had languishing in the vegetable basket, and had initially planned a courgette-crust pizza I've had bookmarked for absolutely ages. But I had a departmental Away Day today and wasn't sure how late I'd be back, so I had a last-minute swerve and went for a courgette, quinoa and avocado salad I found yesterday on one of my favourite blogs, 101 Cookbooks. Its author, Heidi, has published a cookbook, but she's generous enough to post loads of tasty, healthy and home-devised dishes on her blog, too. The salad appealed both on looks and ingredients, plus I could also make quite a bit of it in advance in case I got back late/too cross to cook (in fact the Away Day was quite fun and I was back at about 6.30, but it was nice not to have to worry about more than making the dressing and grilling the courgette).

The salad consists of my new favourite superfood, quinoa, cooled and mixed with a dressing of avocado, yogurt, water, garlic and basil (my substitute for coriander as it had survived not being watered for a week while we were on holiday, while the woosy coriander carked it). This is topped with grilled courgette, hard boiled egg, and some cheese - Heidi said goat's, but I used gruyere as I'd just picked some up in the supermarket. She also added pine nuts but I don't like them. I'm sure that my changes removed some pleasing crunch and creaminess, but it was very nice nonetheless. I always like a good range of textures in a salad, and this one absolutely delivered. The dressing wasn't too obtrusive but added creaminess and richness to the quinoa. The egg yolks were still slightly soft which was really nice - I followed Heidi's directions on timing them exactly, and mean to adopt it for all future hard boiling occasions as it was so successful. I grilled the courgette in the George Foreman, and it was the only hot part of the dish - another nice contrast. I might try it again with grilled aubergine for a Scientist-friendly version. So, the courgette pizza's still on the to-make list - but there's a good few Wednesdays left in the cricket season yet...

Quinoa and grilled courgette salad (From 101 Cookbooks)
[Heidi notes that this quantity makes more dressing than you need for the salad]

1 large avocado, ripe
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro [I used basil]
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

3 large eggs

1 large zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch thick coins
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
couple pinches of fine grain sea salt

2 cups quinoa, cooked, room temperature
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted [I omitted these]
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled [I used gruyere]
a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish

Prepare the cilantro-avocado dressing by blending the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, yogurt, water, and salt in a blender (or us a hand blender). Set aside.

Hard boil the three eggs. Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so - long enough to stop the cooking. Set aside.

While the eggs are cooling start preparing the zucchini by tossing it with olive oil and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Prepare your grill (medium-high heat). If you are worried about the zucchini coins falling through the grill you can thread them onto kabob skewers (stab through the green skin). Grill until zucchini are tender and cooked through, roughly 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and cut each zucchini coin into quarters. [I just grilled them in the Foreman]

Crack and peel each egg, cut each egg into quarters lengthwise. Assemble the salad by tossing the quinoa with about 2/3 cups of the avocado vinaigrette. Top with the grilled zucchini, pine nuts, eggs, goat cheese, and a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish.

Serves 4 to 6.

1 comment:

Johanna said...

boiled eggs always look so gorgeous in a salad that I wish I liked them. That sounds lovely to have a little time to cook just what you want - it is strange how cooking with/for others both opens you up to new ideas and means certain things fall off the menu