Savory-Sweet Summer Squash Salad

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I stop suddenly on the trail, leering to the left, then swinging right. Taking it all in. This is one of my favorite places in the world. The place where W proposed, where we walked and ran together that last summer here. Where visiting friends and family were brought. Where I escaped Biology 212 and pondered life instead.

Serenity. Belonging. Ownership. These feelings wash over me.

Breath in. Release. And running again.

I opt for an out and back and take it all in again from the opposite direction, this time reveling in the change of light and the minty-summery-grassy aroma. Watch the sheep far off in the back pasture.

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“Life goes on, day after day, but it also has the ability to reinvent itself, to start over.”

Farmers markets. Checking out my “must read” books from the library. Lazing away a post-5k afternoon, curled up with W. Somehow getting my body up and out the door to run 11 miles on a Sunday morning and then getting myself to church. Experiences I didn’t let myself enjoy this past year. Until now.

After months of unease and indecisiveness, starting over. Back to the place that feels like home. The college town that’s been in my dreams. I’ve longed for a sense of community, for fitting in where my values lie. For meeting new and catching up with old friends. I’m anxious to begin. Already beginning. W’s advice “don’t push it; let it happen,” as I restlessly wait for him to join me permanently in the fall. I’d like for everything to come into place all at once, but we’re easing back in to the thick of things.

“This is what the seasons show us. We all have marveled at the apple tree’s ability to rest through a dark, cold winter, then to grow new leaves in the spring, to blossom again, to bear fruit.” We’ve been waiting through the long winter these last couple years. We’re ready to let our flowers bloom. Grow those apples, I say.

Later, a moment’s jaunt from our new abode, W and I walk through the forest of ferns and Oregon grape, oak and Douglas fir. We contemplate this transition. Our journey has many unknowns. As one of us is uncertain, the other has been given divine wisdom to trust the process. It is a back and forth sort of thing, and we have always worked this way, it seems.  Through the major decisions, this leaning on each other. Today, I encourage W to settle in to the journey, to welcome the ups and downs. Both are progress. We are moving forward again. To new beginnings.

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Quotes are taken from The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life by Amby Burfoot.
 
This salad was inspired by a recent trip to Whole Foods Market.  I wandered around and around the prepared foods counter until I finally settled on the salad with raisins.  It was a solid choice, and I knew I needed to recreate the recipe.  I changed the ingredients up a bit, by using millet and adding the summer squash, which in a greedy moment, I snatched more than was needed from my mom’s garden. If you do not have millet, feel free to substitute quinoa or couscous.  Don’t skip the raisins, they add the perfect counter balance to the Middle Eastern-inspired spices.
 
Savory-Sweet Summer Squash Salad
Juice of 1/2 a  medium lemon
1.5 Tbs. olive oil plus more for sauteing
1/2 Tbs. + 1 tsp. raw honey
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup millet, uncooked
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. vegetable bouillon powder, optional
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 medium yellow summer squash, diced
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
ground black pepper, to taste
  • To begin, bring water and bouillon powder in heavy saucepan to a boil.  When boiling, gently stir in millet and cover with a lid.  Lower heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  When done, set aside.
  • While grain is cooking, stir together the lemon juice, honey, olive oil, spices, and garlic.  Set aside.
  • Dice onion, bell pepper, and summer squashes into a medium dice.  Heat a large saute pan over medium-high. Pour in enough olive oil to lightly coat bottom of pan.  When hot, add the onion, and saute for 15-20 minutes, until slightly caramelized.  After about 15 minutes, stir in the bell pepper.  Add a dash of water and remaining honey to sweeten and help caramelize.
  • When onions are sweet and golden, stir in the zucchini, summer squash, and raisins.  Saute for 5-10 more minutes until squash is slightly soft.  Stir in the cooked millet and the dressing.  Adjust seasoning with pepper and spices to taste.
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