Guys, it’s the first day of spring! Last night laying in bed, Anup and I gave each other props for surviving another winter here in Canada. A random memory from India comes to mind. Unlike in the western world, we don’t get running water all day long in India. The municipality gives running water about one hour a day, and in this window of time, people have to save up water they might need during the day. Most homes build a water tank that can store up the water for later use. My grandma, who lived with us and was always home, was in charge of this task.
All she had to do was turn on the switch for the motor to fill up the tank. She would turn on the switch, and then sit out on the swing. If neighbors, or any of us asked what she was doing, she would say I am filling up the tank. No matter that she didn’t really have to do any work, she wasn’t going to let anyone deny her the pat on the back! Anup and I feeling a sense of achievement about surviving the winter is similar, but yet here we are, celebrating the first day of spring!
Its a bright sunny day in Vancouver, like a perfect trailer to a good movie you have been waiting for months. Spring and summer to us means being more outdoors, more hikes, more runs, more tennis and of course, more farmers markets! When we lived in Florida, we had sunny weather all year long. Something about it being so consistent made us take it for granted. But here in Vancouver, knowing that winter is lurking somewhere and its going to take over your days soon, we max out our outdoor activities in the summer! Last summer we even went camping for the first time ever!
In the western world, we have great infrastructure, hot and cold running water all day and no bugs in our homes. So, we look to escape all these manicured surroundings we live in and go out in the woods once in a while to enjoy a different experience. But in India, we could experience such rustic surroundings right in our homes, so camping was a bit pointless! No running water? check. Bugs in the house? check. No air conditioning? check. So may be we are turning into “westerners”, but we finally found a reason to escape away and go camping last summer!
Since Anup and I had no experience building a tent, building a fire or in general being in the woods, we had to take our dear friend Alexandra who was kind enough to tag along on a short notice! I think she was excited to show off her camping skills, but we needed all her enthusiasm and were not complaining. Alex had found a beautiful lake front camping site at Monck Provincial Park, tucked away in a mountainous area a few hours away from Vancouver! While the entire camping experience was a blast, the cook in me absolutely fell in love with grilling on an open fire! From breakfast to dinner, if we wanted to eat something hot, it was to be cooked on the wood fire. Ever since winter started, I have been telling myself that grilling is going to be my thing next summer!
So, I wanted to get a head start and celebrate the first day of spring by grilling zucchini! To contrast the tenderness of grilled zucchini, I have used crunchy roasted chickpeas. The smokiness of the grilled zucchini also pairs nicely with the salsa made out of cherry tomatoes, shallots and herbs. Use this salad as your main meal, or pair it with grilled meats! Here’s to the summer to come!
Zucchini and Chickpea Salad
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Cut zucchini length wise in half. Place cut side up and sprinkle with salt. Flip and set aside for 30 minutes until it releases some of its water. The goal here is to make the zucchini less watery, and get it ready for grilling. Pat dry and brush both sides with olive oil. You can skip this step if you are eating the salad right away and don’t mind the zucchini a bit on the tender side.
Set grill on medium high heat. Put zucchini on grill, cook until charred, flip once.
2 cup chickpeas – cooked
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp smoke paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven 400°F.
Toss chickpeas with olive oil, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Spread them out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes until crisply and golden. Set aside.
1 cup cherry tomatoes – sliced in half
2 medium shallots – peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup basil/cilantro/ dill – chopped
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
In a bowl mix tomatoes, shallots, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well and set it aside.
I love serving this salad family style. Let people mix the zucchini, roasted chickpeas and salsa the way they like it!