Northerners sometimes ask me which month is hottest in Austin, and I always say September. I’m sure that the weather records would show July or August, but naive optimism makes September worst for me. September means buying a pair of tall boots and a wooly sweater, baking pumpkin bread, and feeling brisk air spill through open windows at night. So what am I to do with these 103-degree days we’re having? It’s a problem of expectations.
When we took Eleanor out to play on Friday night, we could hear the band reveling at the football stadium a mile from our home. “What’s that sound?” Eleanor asked. So we tried to explain high school football, something that I have no interest in but love all the same because it ushers in the sweaters and pumpkins and such (eventually).
I’m trying to hang on to a thread of enthusiausm for summer cooking, and my recent discovery of the Food52 website has helped. How had I not seen this before? And when presented with hundreds of new recipes, what did I choose? Something with zucchini and lemons, again (Again.). Apparently all I want to do in September is eat zucchini and complain about the weather. In my defense, I will say that if you have a 3-year-old who specifically requests a vegetable that is not corn, you will happily cook that vegetable every single day. This dish is super light, with sweetness from raisins and tartness from lemons, a nice cure for the summer doldrums.
1 T. lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup plus 2 T. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/4 cup veggie stock
1 cup couscous
1 cup diced zucchini and yellow squash (though using just one kind will work)
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 T. chopped fresh mint
Whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and 1/4 cup olive oil in a bowl. Add the garlic and let rest for about 30 minutes.
Bring the stock to a boil in a medium pan. Stir in the coucous, cover the pan, and remove from the heat. Let the coucous sit about five minutes, then fluff with a fork.
In a skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the squash, shallot, raisins, and a few pinches of salt, and saute a minute or two, so the squash is still al dente. Let everything cool to room temperature, and mix the squash mixture with the couscous. Remove the garlic cloves from the dressing, and add the dressing to the couscous to taste. Top with fresh mint.