Shaved Summer Squash Salad with Basil & Ricotta Salata

“I’d be way too intimidated to cook for you.”  More than the note I still pay every month, more than the scars on my forearms, more than years of eighty hour weeks, more than the lost hours of youth-preserving sleep, more than anything, it is hearing these words that make me feel that having a restaurant just cost too damn much.  For a world in which no one wants to cook for me is too bleak to contemplate.  Such a statement is nonsense, for nothing makes me happier than other people’s real cooking.  My life is filled with women who make amazing food.  A tangle of warm, oily noodles, fragrant with herbs, enjoyed on the back porch on a warm summer night.  Fried chicken, followed by ice cream with sticky butterscotch sauce and toasted pecans.  Danish hotdogs (who knew?) with remoulade sauce and crunchy fried onion straws.  Sweet and tart pickled beets and homemade bread and butter pickles.  Just-harvested arugula leaves in a giant wooden bowl, their peppery bite mellowed by balsamic vinegar, good olive oil and crunchy flakes of sea salt.  A plastic tub of mocha buttercream to just stick fingers in and lick.  Or perhaps best, a sliver of Iberico ham fed to me like a baby bird with eyes closed.  The deep joy of surrendering to another’s care and efforts to delight.

We’ve been “home” this week, visiting my godmother, my mother-in-law, and my mother and at each stop along the way, each of them has put delicious, soothing, interesting, nostalgic, innovative, and beautiful food in front of me.  Chocolate cake, fresh East Texas pinto beans, homemade macaroni salad, cornbread with cheddar and dill, chicken fried in my grandmother’s iron Dutch oven, berries and mango cut up and set in front of me in the morning.  This is the ultimate vacation–freedom from care, the giddy certainty that at least twice a day someone will feed me well.  Please, cook for me.

Shaved Squash Salad

1 pound mixed summer squash, sliced very thin

1/4 c. basil leaves, coarsely torn

1 small red onion, sliced thin

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/3 c. olive oil

salt & pepper

1 Tbs. creme fraiche or sour cream

salt & pepper

1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 c. ricotta salata, grated

Combine squash, onions, and basil in a bowl.  To make dressing, whisk lemon juice and creme fraiche in a small bowl.  Drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly, until emulsified. Toss squash with dressing, almonds and ricotta salata.  Serve immediately.

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13 Responses to “Shaved Summer Squash Salad with Basil & Ricotta Salata”

  1. Paulette

    Loved your inspiring blog! And yes, I too remember the wonderful Danish hot dogs (poulsen) that I swirled in catsup, hot mustard and crispy onions a few decades ago. When we lived in Australia, our best friends were both chefs. We agonized over what to serve them and of course the only answer was to serve what we cooked best. Basic as it was, they always ate it! Thanks for the beautiful pictures and the memories you stirred up.

    Reply
  2. Tracy

    I get that comment also and totally understand. The most hurtful is when you have cooked several times for people and then hear they had a dinner for friends and you were not invited (of course maybe they just don’t really like me! Yes any food made for us makes us happy – it is the pleasure of being with friends that is what it is all about.

    Reply
  3. gail

    what is ricotta salata? It looks like a hard cheese so it isn’t anything resembling ricotta cheese.

    Reply
    • farmhousetable

      Ricotta salata is a pressed, salted ricotta. If you can’t find it, substitute feta.

      Reply
  4. Michelann

    That looks amazing! I love my CSA squash, but I despair of things to do with it by the end of a hot Texas summer. Anything that doesn’t involve a hot stove looks great to me, and I love ricotta salata.

    Reply
    • farmhousetable

      Thanks! We’ll keep dreaming up ideas for all that squash. Share any you have too!

      Reply
  5. Kathryn

    I have a similar recipe for squash salad that calls for parmesan cheese and pine nuts. This version looks awesome!

    Reply
    • farmhousetable

      oooh–I’m gonna try that! we will have plenty of opportunities to try squash recipes over the coming months.

      Reply
  6. susie

    looks divine! i just had a big bag of summer squash given to me and now i know exactly what to make with some of it. off to find ricotta salata…

    Reply

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