Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red Quinoa

Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red QuinoaSquash Ribbons to the Rescue

Tis the season for lots and lots of summer squash. In fact, ever-increasing numbers of summer squash now grace our gardens and farmers’ markets. Squash ribbons can help resolve many a summer squash quandary. They are fun and easily prepared. Plus they add a welcome new dimension to summer dishes. Serve them raw as in this crisp and brightly flavored Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red Quinoa. Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red QuinoaOr lightly sautéed and tossed with or without pasta and your favorite pesto or fresh tomato sauce

Squash ribbons how to
Use the longer summer squash rather than the short, round ones to make the nicest squash ribbons. These longer varieties include green and yellow zucchini, yellow crookneck and Italiano largo.

Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red QuinoaSo easy to make summer squash ribbons with a “Y” peeler. To avoid getting cut with these incredibly sharp peelers:

  • Place the squash flat on a cutting board.
  • Use the top half-inch or so of each squash as a handle.
  • Hold onto the handle with one hand while you use the Y peeler in your other hand to slice squash ribbons.
  • Then thinly slice the “handle” with a knife. You can toss these slices into your dish along with the squash ribbons.

Red quinoa
Both red and white quinoa offer the same protein-rich nutritional profile and nutty, earthy flavor. Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red QuinoaThere is minimal nutritional difference between the two of them.

However, the vibrant deep red/brown color and extra crunchiness of red quinoa provides great texture and contrasting color. Especially true in this Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad.

Did you know that although gluten-free quinoa is cooked and served as a grain, it is actually a relative of beets, spinach and Swiss chard? All nutritional powerhouses in their own right.

Delphiniums in my gardenSquash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red Quinoa
In front of my office window, these 5-6 foot tall spires of deep blue and purple delphiniums put on quite a gorgeous summer show. I, and the bees, look forward to them every year.

However, being so tall and having hollow stems creates a major problem. Even when supported, a mild wind can topple them. This year, by supporting them as a whole—my husband’s clever idea—rather than staking them individually, they lean and sway with the wind. We haven’t lost a one.

Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red QuinoaSquash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red Quinoa

Raw squash ribbons and fennel tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette with fresh herbs, red quinoa, toasted walnuts and feta cheese. The salad travels well making it picnic-perfect.
The recipe can easily be halved. Though it makes great leftovers. The fennel keeps the salad crisp. I use my garden arugula. It never wilts, even after three days in the fridge.
Thank you 101 Cookbooks and Epicurious for the inspiration for this recipe.

Serves 6-8 as an entrée salad
Start to Finish: 1¼ hours including 20 minutes marinating time

½ cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow zucchini or crookneck squash
2 medium fennel bulbsSquash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red Quinoa
½ cup finely chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped fennel fronds
1 tablespoon homemade mustard, or Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar, unseasoned
½ teaspoon salt
8 twists freshly ground pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups arugula, torn into 2-inch pieces
½ cup walnuts, toasted and quartered
1/4 cup basil leaves, torn, optional
½ cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
Garnish with optional chive flowers

  1. Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red QuinoaIn a medium saucepan, bring the red quinoa and 1 cup of lightly salted water to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 17 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let the quinoa sit in the covered pan for 5 minutes. Uncover so the quinoa can come to room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red QuinoaUse a “Y” peeler to create squash ribbons from both the zucchini and yellow squash. Place the ribbons in a large bowl.
  3. Trim the fennel. Save some of the tender center fronds for chopping. Cut each of the fennel bulbs into quarters and cut out the core. Very thinly slice the fennel using a food processor fitted with a 2 mm slicing disc. You should have about 6 cups. Transfer the sliced fennel to the bowl with the squash ribbons.
  4. Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red QuinoaAdd the chopped parsley and fennel fronds to the squash ribbon mixture.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and vinegar into the mustard. Season with the salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Toss this dressing with the vegetables and herbs. Set the bowl aside, letting the vegetables marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour.
  6. Squash Ribbons and Fennel Salad with Red QuinoaJust before serving the salad, gently toss the squash ribbon mixture with the quinoa, arugula, optional basil and two-thirds of the walnuts and cheese.
  7. Transfer to a platter. Garnish with the remaining walnuts and cheese and optional chive flowers.

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