Summer Squash and Red Quinoa Salad with Walnuts

Summer Squash and Red Quinoa Salad with Walnuts

As much as I love to cook, I really love it when I just get to pull myself up to the table and revel in someone else’s creation.  Brett and Frank had us over for dinner last weekend to help break in the new counter top rotisserie, which was filled with skewered shrimp, scallops and vegetables.  They also plucked this ultra-fresh, salad of summery, crunchy, nutty goodness out of the latest issue of Bon Appetit.  We liked it so much we had to make it at home.  It works really well as a side dish, but our inability to stop after a small portion makes it an entrée here.

Tonight was one of the rare occasions when there wasn’t any parmesan in the house so we used pecorino instead and it worked very well.    The best news is that there’s enough for lunch tomorrow!  Welcome to regular rotation!


  • 1/2 cup red or other quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh sieve, drained
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1 pound assorted summer squash
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan plus 1/4 cup shaved with a peeler
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn


  • Bring quinoa and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Season with salt, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is tender but not mushy, 12–15 minutes. Drain; return quinoa to hot saucepan. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Uncover; fluff with a fork and let cool.
  • Cut squash into 1/8″-thick slices, some lengthwise and some crosswise. Transfer to a large bowl, season with 2 tsp. salt, and toss to coat. Let sit until slightly wilted, about 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Whisk grated Parmesan, zest, juice, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
  • Combine squash, quinoa, parsley, walnuts, and basil in a large bowl. Pour dressing over; toss to coat. Garnish with shaved Parmesan.


Lemon Basil Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

Lemon Basil Chicken, Roasted Vegetables and Tomato Roquefort Salad

Tonight we had dinner that was both delicious and by mistake, allowed us to feel righteous in doing all the requisite foodie things: using fresh, local, organic ingredients.  The amazing thing is that in the process, we had an amazing morning riding bikes through The City and bought high-quality produce at a fraction of the cost that we would have spent for imported veggies at Safeway.

From my own personal perspective, financial concerns are greater than they’ve been in a long time.  Through this process, I keep thinking about the old adage that freedom is the enemy of creativity.  Obstacles force you to think about things differently and redefine your priorities as you move forward.  Here’s what we came up with from our fun, cheap adventure at the farmers market today.

Total Weight Watchers Plus Points: 6

Wine suggestion: La Crema Chardonnay

Lemon Basil Chicken on the Grill

Lemon Basil Chicken on the Grill

Lemon Basil Chicken

Servings – 4

Weight Watchers Plus Points per serving: 2


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise and gently pounded to uniform thickness
  • 2 lemons juiced and zested
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp of minced fresh basil
  • a generous pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil


  1. Combine lemon juice and zest, minced garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl and stir well.
  2. Place cut chicken in a large ziploc bag.
  3. Add lemon juice marinade and toss well in bag.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove from refrigerator and grill until cooked through, flipping several times.
Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

Servings: Varies depending on the amount of vegetables

Weight Watchers Plus Points per serving: varies, this version: 3

It doesn’t really matter which vegetables you use, just pick your favorites and dice them into bite-sized pieces.  For me, red peppers, whole cloves of garlic, mushrooms and sliced onions are guaranteed staples.

  • 2 stalks of broccoli
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 2 red spring onions
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 small zucchini
  • shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • button mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of thyme, finely chopped
  • Pepper Plant seasoning (optional – delicious, but optional)


  1. Preheat grill (or oven) to 400°
  2. Chop all vegetables into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and Pepper Plant seasoning and toss well
  4. Arrange on a grill tray (or a cookie sheet if you’re using an oven instead of a grill)
  5. Grill until vegetables are tender and slightly charred, about 40 minutes
  6. Remove from heat, season to taste and serve.

Tomato Roquefort Salad

Servings: 2

Weight Watchers Plus Points per serving: 1

Staying true to the let-nothing-go-to-waste pledge, we used some left over tomatoes and the last bit of the Trader Joe’s Roquefort cheese and created a tasty, simple, easy salad – ridiculously easy, it’s taken much more time time type out than it does to actually make.  I used these fantastic tomatoes we’ve formed an addiction for called Kumato.


  • 2 tomatoes, cored and sliced
  • 3 slices of Roquefort (or other bleu cheese)
  • balsamic vinegar


  1. Arrange tomatoes on plate
  2. Crumble bleu cheese and distribute evenly over tomatoes
  3. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar
  4. Dust lightly with salt