Thursday, September 12, 2013

{Recipe} relishing summer salad

As summer winds to a close, this surprisingly flavorful (yet simple) salad makes use of some of summer's best offerings. It also serves as a reminder of how easy it is to turn a few whole veggies into a scrumptious masterpiece. Don't plan to have leftovers--my husband and I gobbled this up in one sitting.  


Yield: makes about 4 servings

1 yellow onion, sliced 4 times (keeping rings intact)
3 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen, thawed)
1 ripe tomato, cut into segments
2 small hot chile peppers or 1 jalapeno, minced 
Abundant fresh thyme leaves
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T brown mustard
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper

Heat grill. Spray onion and zucchini slices with a light coating of cooking spray. Grill onion & zucchini slices for about 10-15 minutes, or just until starting to soften and develop grill marks, turning halfway through (if your grill is closed for the season, you can also just broil the sliced veggies).  

Cut grilled onion and zucchini into bite-size pieces and place in large mixing bowl. Add corn, tomato, hot peppers, and thyme.

In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk together and pour over vegetable mixture. Gently toss to coat veggies. 

It is well-known that vegetables are one of the best sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This salad is full of mostly non-starchy vegetables (all except for the corn), which provide a lot of nutritional value for a small calorie price tag. Additionally, the herb thyme is also full of antioxidants and has even been shown to have anti-microbial properties. Coating the veggies with an extra-virgin olive oil-based dressing provides you with abundant monounsaturated fatty acids--one of the healthiest types of fats you can consume. 

Each serving contains ~165 calories.

Pro Tips
I love dishes with HEAT, which is why you will frequently see hot hot hot (!) peppers in my recipes. I wasn't really a fan of really hot and spicy foods until I started experimenting with and cooking different cultural cuisines and found out how much a little fire in food can add to the eating experience. So if you are on the fence about adding heat, I'd encourage you to try including more hotness in your recipes, a little at a time. And if you still can't stand the heat, don't get out of the kitchen--but feel free to omit the peppers. ;)

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