Here you have a satisfying summer salad with everything you want: juicy fruit, bitter greens, healthy fats, cooked vegetables, and a delightful sweet-and-sour drizzle.Jump to Recipe
To make this salad, the summer squash is sautéed in ghee or olive oil until lightly browned, then piled onto a base of arugula.
Next comes juicy fruit, fresh basil, feta cheese or mozzarella, and pecans.
Finally, the salad is dressed with a blood orange citrus vinaigrette that will start your digestive juices flowing and your taste buds dancing.
Summer squash health benefits
Summer squash, a.k.a. zucchini, is readily available in the summer, and it turns out that nature really does know best.
A little sweet and a lot watery, high in fiber, and low in starch, summer squashes hydrate and cool you off on a hot summer’s day.
Squash is also exceptionally easy to digest, which makes it one of Ayurveda’s favorite foods any time of the year.
To make summer squash even easier to digest, cook it until soft and breaking apart, and/or remove the skins and seeds.
I personally love a zucchini when the interior is still a little crisp, and the outer edges are lightly browned.
According to Vaidya Mishra, the soluble fiber in summer squash binds to waste particles in the digestive tract, and helps your body to escort toxins out of the body via the stools.
He recommends enjoying summer squash daily, especially in the summer. Basically, you can’t overdo it with this gut-friendly vegetable.
ARUGULA: A light, peppery, bitter green that’s light and easy to digest. Arugula provides warming digestive support for this salad (along with the basil).
FRESH BASIL: A powerful herb that’s loaded with anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving antioxidants. Relaxes the muscles, enhances circulation, and warms the body.
PEACHES, APRICOTS, NECTARINES, STRAWBERRIES: These are acid and subacid fruits, which means they include a sour taste (in addition to sweet). The sour taste supports digestion by encouraging secretions and combines better with other foods.
For those who’ve heard the Ayurvedic rule against mixing fruit with other foods, there is an exception here for acid and subacid fruits. These types of fruits combine well with each other, and do work in leafy green salads as part of a meal, as long as the quantity of fruit is relatively small.
OLIVE OIL: A good quality olive oil is both pungent and bitter. You should feel a bit of burn on the back of your throat. You’ve heard of the heart-healthy benefits of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil also stimulates bile flow and flushing the liver and gallbladder.
FETA CHEESE OR MOZZARELLA: Fresh cheeses like feta and mozzarella are sweet, salty, and a little sour. In general, from an Ayurvedic perspective, the fresher the cheese, the sweeter it is, and the easier it is to digest.
PECANS, WALNUTS, or PISTACHIOS: Nuts are a good source of fiber and healthy fats, as well as adding a desirable crunch factor.
Summer Squash & Arugula Salad
Helpful Kitchen Tools:
- 8-inch skillet (to cook the squash)
for the raw ingredients
- 4 cups arugula, (sub with lettuce)
- 1 cup peach, (sub with apricots, nectarines, strawberries, or tomatoes)
for the cooked ingredients
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cups yellow summer squash, or zucchini
- ¼ teaspoon salt
for the garnish
- ¼ cup feta cheese, (sub with mozzarella)
- ¼ cup basil, loosely packed (sub with cilantro, dill, parsley, etc.)
- 3 tablespoons pecans, walnuts, pistachios, etc.
- Assemble the salad in one large bowl or 2 individual bowls. Start with the washed arugula or lettuce in the bottom of the bowl(s).
- Chop summer squash into bite-sized pieces. Prepare fresh herbs by washing and roughly chopping about a ¼ cup’s worth.
- Heat ghee or olive oil in a small skillet on medium heat. Add squash and sprinkle with salt. Sauté until soft, and lightly browned. Add half of the fresh herbs and shake or stir well for about a minute. Turn off the heat, and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Make Blood Orange Citrus Vinaigrette, or prepare a simple dressing of olive oil, citrus juice or red wine vinegar, salt, and a bit of black pepper.
- When you are ready to assemble the salad, spoon some of the vinaigrette onto the arugula. Add the cooked squash mixture evenly over the top. Chop the fruit and layer it on. Add the cheese, fresh herbs, and nuts, then spoon over more of the vinaigrette. I suggest about 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette per serving. Enjoy!