Shaved Zucchini and Carrots with Toasted Almonds and Goat Cheese
Don’t panic, I am actually incredibly excited about this. It’s the first weekend I’ve spent in the city all summer, and I am pretty pumped about enjoying some “me time” in my new apartment. I’m going to run errands, maybe do some sort of (brief) exercise, finish the new Dan Brown book, and keep up with the Kardashians. I also want to get a haircut and maybe hit up Bed, Bath and Beyond on Saturday afternoon. I don’t know! I don’t know if I’ll have enough time!
This solo weekend is actually coming on the heels of a full week of single living. Logan is in Colorado visiting friends and attending a bachelor party, so I have commandeered the apartment and been flying solo since Monday. Having a roommate is bomb, and obviously I miss Logan terribly when he’s away, but it’s nice to have a little alone time. To be completely honest, living with a boy has cramped my style in various ways…
First of all, having a roommate has really infringed on my beauty rituals. I no longer sport deep-cleansing facial masks in the evening, lie around with green teabags on my eyes (de-puffing miracle!), or go to bed rocking my retainer and a face full of zit cream. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable doing these things in front of Logan, it’s just that I enjoy keeping the romance alive in my relationship by not resembling the walking dead every night. Call me old-fashioned. Needless to say, I have taken advantage of this week to do all kinds of weird at-home beauty treatments. I look great.
Living with Logan has also forced me to tone down some of my roommate-unfriendly habits. For example, I have stopped listening to Harry Potter audiobooks before bed. (Why everyone wouldn’t want to listen to a British man read Harry Potter aloud to them while they go to sleep is beyond me, but to each his own.) I also try not to eat or drink in bed because I tend to spill, and some people don’t like to sleep in crumbs with coffee/cocktail-stained sheets.
For the record, Logan is a mild neat-freak and I am a hot mess, so I make a solid effort to clean up after myself in our shared space. This has actually been very good for me, since my Mom has been trying to get me to do the very same thing for approximately 26 years. Snaps for Logan. However, let’s just say that the apartment has become slightly more disheveled this week. I did my best, but sometimes I need to try on ten outfits, and I simply do not have enough time to hang them all back up. (One more reason I need an assistant.)
Unfortunately, Logan appears to be psychic. When he called last night to chat, he said, “You’re doing all kinds of naughty things, aren’t you?” Sadly, that was not sexual innuendo. He was literally referring to the type of “depraved” lifestyle that I adopt when he’s away. It was as if he knew that on the other end of the line, I was starfishing in the middle of the bed (which I had not made that morning), wearing a pajama set and a facemask while eating a snack and binge-watching old episodes of Kim and Kourtney Take Miami on my computer. So naughty.
While I’ve certainly been enjoying my fancy pajama sets and Justin Beiber albums this week, perhaps the best thing about life sans roommate is that I have much more freedom in my daily cooking. By that I mean that I can eat vegetable-heavy meals and salads without fear of causing a complete Dude meltdown. (Logan recently shared with me that he needs to eat meat at every meal or he doesn’t feel full, but that is a subject for a later time/Dude Diet exposé.) As I mentioned earlier this week, I am in wedding recovery mode, and I’m currently hitting the vegetables pretty hard. So, I’m sorry for posting two salads in a row, but I thank you for your understanding and support during this difficult time.
I am proud to report that I did eat Summer Salad almost exclusively for three days, but I have also worked a few other pretty sweet vegetable/salad recipes into the rotation. And while there have been some sexy things coming out of my kitchen this week, Shaved Zucchini and Carrots with Toasted Almonds and Goat Cheese was the real moneymaker.
I was inspired to create this “salad” while perusing the most recent issue of Bon Appetit, which contains an article entitled “The Vegetable Revolution.” I won’t bore you with the details, in case you do not find new ways to prepare vegetables as enthralling as I do, but there were several very pretty pictures of shaved vegetables, especially beets. Because I like pretty things and vegetables, I felt the need to do some vegetable shaving immediately. Despite their rather enticing fuschia hue, I hate beets, so shaving those was out of the question. Instead, I settled on some carrots and zucchini, which turned out to be equally attractive and ridiculously delicious.
You’re going to love this recipe for many reasons. First and foremost, it’s absurdly easy to make. It only has a handful of ingredients, and it doesn’t even involve any actual cooking (unless you count toasting the almonds, which I do not). It literally took me less than 15 minutes from start to finish, which included the 5 minutes I spent looking for my vegetable peeler. Plus, shaving vegetables is remarkably simple. I’m guessing you are in possession of a vegetable peeler, which is the only tool you’ll need for this dish. (If you do not own a vegetable peeler, you should be embarrassed. Go buy one immediately.)
Shaved Zucchini and Carrots with Toasted Almonds and Goat Cheese may have few ingredients, but it’s pretty impressive in both the flavor and texture departments. Thin ribbons of zucchini and carrots are tossed with just a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt, which subtly enhances the vegetables’ flavors. Rich toasted almonds and creamy goat cheese give a little bit of depth to this salad, and the mint adds a refreshing twist.
While Shaved Zucchini and Carrots is a lovely (very) light meal, it is also the perfect warm weather side dish. It’s simplicity and no-cook nature makes it perfect for casual outdoor extravaganzas, barbecues and picnics, and it tastes delicious with pretty much any version of chicken, steak, or pork. I would even go out on a limb and serve it with grilled salmon or herb shrimp. (I know it’s frowned upon to serve seafood with cheese, but it totally works in this case. Trust me, I’m an expert.)
Happy Friday, friends! I’m off to start my solo weekend by drinking cocktails on my fire escape. I’m very fond of this apartment’s “outdoor space.”
Shaved Zucchini and Carrots with Toasted Almonds and Goat Cheese: (Serves 4)
½ cup sliced almonds
1 large carrot, peeled and shaved
2 small zucchini, shaved
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 sprigs mint (leaves only, duh), finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Preparing your Shaved Zucchini and Carrots with Toasted Almonds and Goat Cheese:
-Start by toasting your almonds. Heat a large pan or skillet over high heat. (There is no oil involved here, people.) Add the sliced almonds to the pan and toast, stirring regularly, until the almonds are nicely brown and fragrant. This should take about 3-4 minutes. Remove your almonds from the pan and set aside until ready to use.
-Place the shaved zucchini and carrots in a large bowl and add the toasted almonds, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, mint, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Gently toss the ingredients together. (I suggest using tongs if you have them. Tongs rule.)
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