meatless . #32 {different take on soup + salad night}

On Monday, I had every intention of doing Meatless Monday.  Had a good workout at the gym, was feeling awesome {yes, I’m an 80s girl and just used the word ‘awesome’} and healthy so was actually looking forward to a nice meatless dinner. Headed off to the store and made a huge mistake…meandered by the butcher.  There in the counter were beautiful hanger steaks.  Somehow, they mysteriously got wrapped up and poof! They were in my cart.  After Monday’s little steaks and last night’s chili dog gut bomb, I needed a light dinner.  {Side note: finally went to Mike’s Chili in Ballard, which I always thought was called Mike’s Chili Bowl. Nope. No bowl.  I think there should be ‘bowl’ at the end.  Oh well. After 12 years of pining, finally went.  Did I mention my dog was topped with tons of cheese and jalapeños?  Double gut bomb with an pale ale chaser.} 
So soup and salad it was!  A chilled soup and salad of grilled/roasted vegetables and herbs.  Great summer evening dinner…if only the Seattle weather would cooperate.  After being overcast this morning, the sun finally came out in the afternoon although it never really warmed up. No worries.  This weekend is supposed to be fab!  If you find it’s too warm this weekend to be in the kitchen, you could try one of these recipes, or both {you could grill the peppers on the grill and toast the nuts on the grill too in a dry pan…or on the stove.}  This Chilled Persian Yogurt Soup {pictured above} is a nice starter.  It popped up on my Facebook feed Monday morning and intrigued me.  Love cucumber and yogurt but was curious about how a whole soup of it would taste. Was a little worried it would just be a glorified raita.  The walnuts and raisins, along with all the herbs added a lot of flavor to the soup.  If I had really been thinking ahead I would have popped down to Market Spice at the Pike Place Market and got the rose petals and sumac. But I didn’t.  What I did have, however – and Lord only knows why since I can’t remember even buying it – was rose water. In lieu of the petals, added 1 tsp of rose water. It added a nice light sweet, floral note.  If you are looking for a more hearty vegetarian entree, the soup would be great with this Persian Rice – which, if you used a paella pan, could be done on the grill if you adjust the cooking time.  But if you want to get your meat on, it would be fab before grilled lamb!
For our main course, I adapted a roasted pepper salad by Yotam Ottolenghi.  If you don’t have his cookbook Plenty, you must add it to your culinary library. I am so in love with it. And if you are ever in London, please visit one of his four restaurants.  The original recipe is fab but I really needed to use up some zucchini, a common problem that ‘crops up’ in late July and August.  I also changed some of the greens and swapped pecorino in the original for parmesan, since I had that on hand. If you need to speed up the recipe below, you can do so by utilizing these three steps:  1] go to the bulk section of the grocery store and buy pre-roasted {unsalted} hazelnuts, 2] get roasted peppers from the olive bar, and 3] get the package of herb salad mix from the produce department.  You could also use a premade balsamic vinaigrette, but I wouldn’t as it is so easy to make. This is such a lovely salad.  My recipe makes enough for 4 entree salads, but will easily make 6 starters.   And last note, you will definitely want to grill some bread to along with both of these items, lavash or naan brushed with a little olive oil.

Zucchini Pepper Herb Salad

serves 4
1/3 c hazelnuts
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, quartered and seeded
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp light brown sugar
4 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into ¼” slabs
¼ c flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
1 cup basil leaves
1 bunch of watercress, leaves only
3 c Mache
¼ c shaved parmesan
Preheat oven to 375°.  Using 1 tbsp of the olive oil, brush over peppers and arrange flat on one side of a roasting sheet. On the other side, place the hazelnuts.  Roast in the oven.  After 10 minutes, remove the hazelnuts, setting aside, and return the peppers to the oven to cook for 10 more minutes or until the skin starts to char slightly.  Remove from the oven and put peppers into a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let cool enough to handle while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. 
In a small bowl, whisk 4 tbsp of the olive oil with the vinegar, water, sugar, thyme and garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste. When peppers are cool, peel the skins off and add to the vinaigrette.  Cover and let marinate for at least 20 minutes at room temperature.  
Brush zucchini with remaining olive oil and grill until just starting to soften and has nice grill marks, about 2 minutes on each side over medium heat.  {This would be a good time to also grill your flat bread.}  Remove from the grill and let cool slightly.  In a large bowl, toss the greens and herbs together.  Add the peppers with their vinaigrette and toss gently. Divide among four plates, adding slices of zucchini and topping with the shaved parmesan. 
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