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Do you ever try to reproduce things you’ve eaten in restaurants? I do. It’s never exactly the same, but often I am able to create a similar effect. What amazed me about this salad is that I don’t even like summer squash. But I enjoyed it this way, raw and thinly sliced.


This salad from Del Popolo in San Francisco blew me away. It is summer squash, cucumber, toasted almonds, buttermilk dressing, and a fresh herb called nepitella. I’m not sure what the shavings of cheese were–a hard, Italian-type cheese.

I have a mandoline, so it was easy to slice the squash thin. The cucumbers in the original seem to be partly thin-sliced and partly in chunks. Toasted almonds are easy enough–throw them in the oven at 375 for 10 minutes or so, until they get fragrant. It boosts their flavor immensely. The dressing was tricky because I didn’t want to buy a whole quart of buttermilk just to make one salad. I ended up blending equal parts vegenaise (vegan mayo) and Greek yogurt (a couple of heaping tablespoons each) with a few bits of garlic scape, some salt and pepper, and two teaspoons of lemon juice. I used regular mint leaves instead of the nepitella, which worked out just fine, but I also added a tiny sprinkling of dry herbes de provence. I used Bellavitano (and a generous hand) for the cheese.


And here it is! Great textures, lots of interesting flavors, and perfect for high summer. Definitely something I’ll make again.