Another cucumber salad plus a little more

Salad, noodles and more

So following on from my post of the other day, my friend Anji Bee noted over on Facebook that she’d done a Japanese variant on a cucumber salad, involving rice vinegar, soy sauce and seaweed. She mentioned aji nori furikake whereas I only had kizami nori around but as I did have that plus the other ingredients, I felt I should give it a whirl.

But this was also a classic case of wanting to clear out a couple of things before my next basket tomorrow. I had no tomatoes left but I did have a bit of tofu I wanted to finish up, already baked and marinated. So I chopped up some to mix with the salad as it stood, while the rest I mixed with some buckwheat noodles I had left that had been cooked then chilled, topped with some soba sauce and a sprinkling of ichimi togarashi for bite. The result — perfectly filling while not being too heavy. And again, in warm weather, a cool meal is the way to go!

A basic enough cucumber/tomato salad

Cucumber/tomato salad

I haven’t been posting too much in the way of my own cooking/kitchen work lately because I’ve basically been indulging in a variety of salads — the hot weather combined with resultant laziness means I’m much more interested in something easily prepped and eaten like a good salad, with some bread or something similar to the side.

But this isn’t to say one can’t get quite creative with salads, of course, and there’s endless possibilities. The other day, though, I figured a basic cucumber/tomato salad would do the trick, but wanted to see what others had done; after a quick scrounge around the web I did one version of this the other night, then this one here for lunch.

In both cases, again, simplicity is the key — all you really need is a cucumber and a tomato and there you go. Where something more comes in lies in the additions and the preparation — the dressing used, for example, was a homemade white balsamic vinaigrette, itself stupidly easy to make, with good olive oil and a white balsamic vinegar plus thyme and oregano and a dash of pepper. The other night I also included some diced tofu for protein and to soak up some more of the flavor; this version removes the tofu (I didn’t want a too heavy lunch) but adds fresh chopped basil. Both the basil and the tomato came from my garden, adding to the simple joy of that ever excellent combination. Finally the cucumber was quartered and had its seeds removed, but I retained the skin. A bit more pepper on the top was all that was needed.

Again, hardly the most surprising creation, but the joy should be good nourishment, good taste and something that works well with where you’re at. This did the trick, the rest follows!

Yay Thanksgiving dinner!

First plateful over at Stripey’s sister’s place — a big gathering, sixteen people all told counting the kids! A very nice mix of stuff — both sweet and regular mashed potatoes, stuffing, two kinds of gravy, an excellent broccoli salad, etc. My two contributions were the bread on the left there — a raisin cinnamon sesame bread from Avanti — and the cucumber salad, which is in between the bread I brought and the broccoli salad. I used this recipe and modified it slightly (no tahini available but I added sliced small sweet peppers), and I got a slew of compliments so hey! Mixing the dressing was key, aiming for a smaller amount overall with more emphasis on taste instead of oil. Worked wonders. Hope your day was equally good!

Onion poppy seed biscuits and a cucumber dill salad

More from the Angelic Organics cookbook mentioned the other week. A bit thrown together but both delicious!

Three recipes thanks to Angelic Organics and Farmer John

I’ve spoken before about Angelic Organics, whose founder, John Peterson, has gained deserved fame as one of the key faces of the CSA movement. A couple of years back my friend Greg gave me a copy of the excellent Farmer John’s Cookbook and I’ve dipped in and out of it many times.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve gone ahead and tried a slew of recipes from the book, all of which were winners. I won’t post them here since I really encourage you to buy the book, but various sample recipes are available through the Angelic Organics site.

That first photo you see is of a simple sauteed kohlrabi — very tasty and a nice difference from the steaming of kohlrabi I’ve done several times before. Rich, but not overly so, and flavored just right.

The other day, meanwhile, I took a pumpkin which hadn’t been sacrificed to Halloween purposes and adapted a recipe in the book to create a pumpkin basil soup that was almost ridiculously good:

And earlier tonight, something I couldn’t imagine existing before I read it in the book — cucumber with risotto. Cooking cucumber seemed counterintuitive but I went ahead and…

Very, very delicious. Now, what to try next…

Tamatem ma’amrine — a Moroccan stuffed tomato recipe


Taken from Claudia Roden’s book Arabesque, a collection of Moroccan, Turkish and Lebanese recipes. I stumbled across this in there along with a killer photo of same and figured these had to be made!

The recipe as provided serves six, so adjust accordingly; I’ve also simplified the instructions a touch based on how I made them:

* 4 red bell peppers
* salt
* 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* one can of tuna, flaked
* 2 tbsp capers
* 4 tbsp chopped black olives
* peel of 1/2 preserved lemon, chopped (optional)
* 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 6 large tomatoes (beefsteak recommended — as you can see, I went with heirlooms of various sorts)

Roast the peppers at near max oven temperature for 30 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes. They should be soft with blistered/blackened skins.

Place the peppers in a covered pan for 15 minutes; when cool enough to handle, peel and remove stem and seeds, then chop into 3/4 inch or so strips or chunks.

Mix with all other ingredients except the tomatoes.

Cut a small circle around the stalk of each tomato and cut out a cap. (If using heirlooms, note that if you’re not careful you might cut all the way through to the bottom!) Gently scoop out the center and seeds, then stuff each with the mixture and place the cap on top of each.

Arrange in a shallow baking dish, bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are a little soft. But don’t let them fall apart!

Serve hot or cold, but cold recommended.

Meanwhile, as a side dish a potato or carrot salad is recommended, but it being a hot day (which is why these tomatoes are chilling right now) I’m going with this melon/cucumber recipe provided with the basket the other day:

Melon-Cucumber Salad for 2

15 min | 15 min prep

SERVES 2

* 2 tablespoons salad oil
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1/2 teaspoon sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 dash fresh ground pepper
* 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
* 1 cup melon (1/4 inch pieces, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon)
* crisp crunchy salad greens

1. Mix oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper.
2. Toss cucumber slices, melon and oil mixture in bowl.
3. Chill.
4. Remove with slotted spoon to salad greens.

© 2008 Recipezaar. All Rights Reserved. http://www.recipezaar.com

So there you go!

Roasted gazpacho, tomato and cucumber salad, a table red and some bread

Now that’s a great Friday night dinner to my mind!

The gazpacho recipe was taken from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, so as always go to that, but here’s a link to an excellent looking version that uses cucumber, which I should have included with mine, as I have plenty and to spare! But it would not have gone well with roasting, I think.

If you want to go the route I took, all one has to do is simply spend some time roasting your vegetables of choice — tomatoes and peppers obviously being key — in olive oil, then mixing it with water, seasonings and dry bread, then letting it soak overnight before blending, straining and serving. As it happened, after blending and straining I let it sit for another day’s worth and so that meant tonight I could just simply open up the containers, add the Parmesan cheese and croutons and go nuts.