The default is to think of salad as a side to the main meal. It probably conjures images of lettuce (most likely iceberg), halved cherry tomatoes, and cucumber slices. I imagine it is tossed in an "herbed" Italian vinaigrette and served with a couple of slices of bad Italian bread.
And it's bad. Just really awful and the reason I hated salads for so long.
But now that I have my own kitchen I can rethink everything. My salads have begun to look very different then your standard "lettuce just thrown into a bowl with a couple of sub-standard accouterments". They are flavorful! Each ingredient is well thought-out! And they are comprised of things other than lettuce. Don't get me wrong - I love a good head of butter lettuce and arugula is the cat's pajamas but you know what makes for a really great salad base? Roasted zucchini. Zatar roasted zucchini to be exact. It's flavorful, substantial, and it can stand-up to a whole slew of mix-in's without getting limp and soggy. Things like chickpeas, toasted chopped almonds, and feta. It's a salad that can stand-up as a main but can also serve as a side at your next BBQ without going bad. If there is a way to make summer even better, this is it.
Roasted Zucchini Salad with Chickpeas, Almonds, and Feta
Serves 4 as a main and 6 as a side
This salad is a dream because it tastes just as good on the day of as it does 2 days later. How many salads manage to get better with age? Like 3. Maybe. Being able to make it ahead and have it still taste phenomenal hours later is why it deserves a spot at your next summer soiree. Call dibs on the leftovers for lunch.
For the Zucchini
4 or 5 small to medium sized zucchini sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons zatar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sumac
For the Salad
1/4 cup almonds toasted and chopped
1 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup mixed herbs (I used basil, mint, and lemon thyme)
1/2 cup crumbled feta
For the Dressing
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Squeeze of honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon aleppo pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the zucchini slices in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, zatar, salt and sumac. Lay the zucchini slices in a single layer on the baking sheet (this will need to be done in 2 batches). Roast for 15 minutes. Flip the zucchini and then roast for an additional 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining zucchini slices.
Combine the zucchini slices in a bowl with the almonds, chickpeas, herbs, and feta.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Pour over the salad ingredients and toss to combine. Eat with abandon.