"Attack of the Squash People" by Marge Piercy (Part 2) + Superfood Salad with Magical Zucchini and Walnut Dressing
Today I'm back with Part 2 of the zucchini posts, so I'll pick up where I left off. On the same trip to Hawaii, I also had a moment. You might call it a lightbulb, a-ha, game changing moment, and it's all thanks to zucchini. You might think it was all thanks to kale, but it turns out that kale was hardly the most surprising part of this recipe.
Also, it's safe to say that all of our bodies must be telling us something. As I was working on this post, another wonderful blogger also posted her take on a creamy dressing for kale, and Twitter chronicled our cravings and adaptation ideas as well. I love being in good company this way.
About halfway through my Hawaiian kale salad I walked up to the counter and asked what they put in the dressing. Ingredients included zucchini, nutritional yeast, flax, and garlic. She rattled off the list but I was still fixated on the zucchini. It was a marvelous idea and the perfect thickener, ensuring that the dressing will hold up to the kale leaves. When I got home, I wanted to use a nut oil to drive home the walnut flavor and really make the dressing sing even more.
But let's not forget about poetry. Last week we read the first half, and today, we close with Piercy summing up zucchini's bounty, juxtaposed by our urgent need to bottle, pickle and savor it before the season becomes just a memory.
Attack of the Squash People
by Marge Piercy
**Read Part 1
...Sneak out before dawn to drop
them in other people's gardens,
in baby buggies at churchgoers.
Shot, smuggling zucchini into
mailboxes, a federal offense.
With a suave reptilian glitter
you bask amend your raspy
fronds sudden and huge as
alligators. You give and give
too much, like summer days
limp with heat, thunderstorms
bursting their bags on our heads,
and we salt and freeze and pickle
for the too little to come.
SUPERFOOD SALAD WITH MAGICAL ZUCCHINI WALNUT DRESSING
If the words raw vegan salad have you running for the hills, this recipe will rock your world, promise. The secret, it turns out, is the dressing. Kale is a sturdy green, and benefits from a thicker dressing that can soften it into submission. Also, walnut oil. I never like to tell you you must do something, but I highly recommend experimenting with nut oils here, because it adds so much depth to the dressing. A soft mustard vinaigrette just won't do.
Also, once you get the hang of things, there are endless adaptations here. Add avocado, a squeeze of citrus, or basil leaves. This just happens to be my favorite combination of things for the moment, but if you want to add thinly sliced cucumber or sunflower seeds instead, go for it!
This salad only gets better with time. It's best to toss at least 30 minutes before eating for the flavors to blend. If you have a Whole Foods nearby, they carry an organic kale mix that already includes carrots and cabbage, to save you a step.
For the dressing
1 medium zucchini
1 garlic clove
A few walnuts
1/4 cup walnut oil, plus more as needed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
1 bunch curly kale, leaves separated from the stems and roughly chopped
1 or 2 small carrots, julienned
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
2 radishes, thinly sliced with a mandolin
1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced with a mandolin
1 avocado, diced
A handful of walnuts, chopped
Basil microgreens (optional)
In a food processor, add the zucchini, roughly chopped, along with the garlic clove, walnuts, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse to break up the zucchini, then stream in the walnut oil. You want the dressing to be thick enough to stand up to the kale, but not so thin that it doesn't adhere to the lettuce. Also, it doesn't have to be perfectly smooth, either. Continue processing until the zucchini has been broken down, and if the dressing is still too thick, add a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, about another 1/4 cup. If it's still a bit thick, I like to add more walnut oil here until it's just perfect. Be sure to season well with salt. (In general, I've provided a basic measurement framework, but the size of your zucchini, or if you're doubling a batch, may require you to make some adjustments for more or less oil, so use your instincts and adjust the amount you need accordingly.)
Into a large bowl, add the kale, quinoa, walnuts and, cucumber and radishes. Pour most of the dressing over the top and use your hands (they're a best tool here!), to incorporate everything together. Add more dressing if needed. Once the salad is well dressed, add the avocado and toss it once more before serving.
Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving, but the flavors only get better with time. Finish with microgreens, if using.