My cookbook library – Pancetta, mushroom and zucchini salad

The last book I bought before my self imposed ban on buying a new cookbook until I had cooked (and posted) something from 5 of the books I own was Rena Patten’s Cooking With Quinoa: the Supergrain. I like quinoa  but had only used it in a few dishes, so I wanted to learn more ways to use it

I liked the sound of this recipe, as it was fresh and light, used ingredients that I already had and sounded delicious and filling. I also thought it would be great the next day for lunch. It was quite time consuming grilling the vegetables, as I only have a small grill pan. I think next time I’ll cook them on the bbq. But the result was flavourful and filling, with the chilli adding a hint of heat, freshness from the basil and zucchini, saltiness from the pancetta and the wonderful earthy mushrooms and nutty quinoa. For a vegetarian option, just leave out the pancetta. It was great the next day cold as well. Yum.

pancetta, mushroom and zucchini salad

Book recipe number: 3

Number of cookbooks owned: 198+

New book credit: 0.6 (2 more to go before I am allowed to buy another cookbook)

Pancetta, mushroom and zucchini salad

Serves 3-4 as a main, 6 or more as a side


  • ¾ cup quinoa – rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • 500g mushrooms (I used button and swiss brown)
  • 500g zucchini (corgettes)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 125g pancetta – sliced/diced (omit for a vegetarian option)
  • 3 large garlic clovers – peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup basil leaves – torn into small pieces
  • ½ – 1 red chilli – seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Shaved parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Place the quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Trim the stalk and slice the mushrooms into thick slices. Slice the zucchini into quite thick slices diagonally.
  3. Heat a griddle pan on hot (or use the bbq), toss the vegetables in a little olive oil and grill on the pan until golden but still a little firm (my zucchini was about 3-5 minutes per side, a few minutes for the mushrooms).
  4. Fry the pancetta and garlic in the griddle pan or in a fry pan for a few minutes until the pancetta is crisp. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add the pancetta and garlic, mushrooms and zucchini in a large bowl with the quinoa, basil and chilli.
  6. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing to the salad and toss.
  7. Serve and top with parmesan and extra chilli if you like.

Adapted from Rena Pattern’s Cooking With Quinoa: the Supergrain

Tip – to deseed a chilli, rub it between your hands, cut the top off and then rub it again between your hands. Most of the seeds will simply fall out.

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