I had been dreaming up this combination for awhile. I love spaghetti with pecorino, lemon and lots of black pepper. It hits me just right, time and again. For this salad I wanted to take my much loved trio in a different direction. I’m not sure what it is about summertime, but I go absolutely wild with food. There’s always a) a cold beer, b) an ice cream treat, c) a seasonal fruit baked yum-yum or d) all of the above within arm’s reach. Worthy of note: my ability to resist anything that looks even remotely good is nonexistent. It doesn’t even have to be amazing, seriously.
So grains and vegetables were sounding good to me in a big way. I thought roasted zucchini would play off of the nutty qualities of wild rice beautifully. If you haven’t tried zucchini sliced up and roasted, you’re in for a treat. I can say with reasonable authority that roasting is the best cooking method when handling this particular summer veggie. If you season it up generously, the little browned edges and slightly sweet interiors are gonna blow your mind.
The pecans play their little crunchy, toasty part and teeny flecks of parsley make it fresh. The flavours and textures play off of each other so well. It’s almost like a party in your mouth, but the kind of party where only people you really, really like show up and you’re just having casual drinks in your jean shorts by the pool. Translation: It’s really easy to throw together, perfect for summer and it tastes amazing. Makes sense, no?
wild rice and roasted zucchini salad with pecorino
notes: I know wild rice can be crazy expensive so feel free to substitute half or all of the amount with brown basmati rice or whatever type you’re into. Also, cooking rice is my nemesis so I just approach it like pasta sometimes: lots of salted water and drain when it seems done.
1/2 cup wild rice, rinsed
2 medium zucchinis, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
2-3 tbsp olive oil, divided
ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
juice from half a lemon
1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
3-4 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cook the rice: in a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the rinsed rice and a pinch of salt. Lower heat to a simmer, place lid on top and cook until whites start to emerge from inside the grain and rice is slightly softer (but still a bit toothsome). Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside
While rice is cooking, roast the zucchini. Toss slices in 1 tbsp of the olive oil and lots of salt and pepper. Lay the slices out onto a wire rack positioned over a parchment lined baking tray. Place in the oven until edges are browned and interiors are soft, about 20 minutes. Chop into small pieces when cool enough to handle.
Place rice and chopped zucchini in a medium bowl. Add remaining olive oil, lemon zest, juice, cheese, pecans and chopped parsley. Season to taste (I like a lot of black pepper here). Serve immediately or chill and store for later.