Tomato, Cucumber, Onion and Mint Salad

IMG_3224We like to have delicious light lunches that are not sandwiches and don’t have to include meat, cheese, or bread.  Recently I saw a similar version of this salad  that Paula Deen recommended. It is a refreshing departure from one based on lettuce or other greens. It is too late in the season for our garden to provide the tomatoes and cucumbers, but we have more than enough mint and parsley!  This works well with a triangle of pita bread, or as a side if we use it for dinner with grilled meats or fish. Try this with chopped basil and some mozarella balls for an entirely different but tasty salad..

Tomato, Cucumber,, Onion, and Mint Salad

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

1/4 cup (or more to taste) fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon chopped Parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomato, cucumber, onion, and mint in salad bowl.  In liquid measuring cup, whisk together oil, vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Pour over vegetables and mint and toss. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Marinated Cucumbers with Basil

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A variation of sliced cucumbers seasoned with salt and pepper and covered with vinegar, my new favorite side for grilled fish, meats or sandwiches is this delicious Marinated Cucumber and Basil.  This is derived from a Japanese style pickle which uses Shiso instead of Basil. Shiso is an aromatic Asian herb which is becoming more popular but I do not have a good source for it, and I love basil. I added a just picked glossy jalapeno pepper, and the result was a perfect combination of sweet and heat served with a crunch.  If you can’t take the heat, leave out the pepper, but be sure to try this. Try the marinade on carrots, radishes, onions, or almost any other summer vegetable.  I like zucchini rounds!

Marinated Cucumber and Basil

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

3 Tablespoons sweet  Mirin, a Japanese rice wine

1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 English cucumbers

1 seeded, sliced jalapeno pepper

8 or 10 large fresh basil leaves

Mix sugar, vinegar, Mirin, and salt in glass or pottery bowl (non-reactive).  Whisk until salt and sugar are dissolved.  Slice cucumber very thin.  Wash and pat basil leaves dry, then stack them and roll them. You may shred with a small sharp knife or cut across with kitchen shears..  Add cucumber slices and basil to marinade, tossing to cover as well as possible.  They will shrink as they marinate.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

 

 

Cool Cucumbers

008Summertime in Texas means a jar of cucumbers (preferably homegrown) sitting in a jar  in the refrigerator – cold, crunchy, snappy goodness that are a perfect side for almost any meal. No cooking required, so cool food, cool kitchen!  My mother kept a jar of these cucumbers in her icebox, and I remember my grandmother making them, too.  I usually make mine by heating water and the small amount of sugar needed until the sugar completely dissolves, then mixing with vinegar before pouring over layered cucumbers and sliced onions seasoned with salt and pepper.

There are many variations created by adding  another vegetable or spices.  If I have dill growing in my herb bed, I add a few sprigs of it.  I have added celery seeds, cherry tomatoes or a sliced jalapeno.  We like this best alongside a serving of fresh purple hull peas and a wedge of cornbread.  When we lived in Indonesia, we learned to enjoy a version of this dish prepared in much the same way, but adding hot peppers and carrots, all chopped in small pieces.  This is called acar, and is served as a condiment, served with many foods there, but always with nasi goreng (fried rice).

Marinated Cucumbers

2-3  cucumbers, sliced (I peel them if they are storebought, but skip peeling when I bring them in from the garden)

1 onion, thinly sliced

½ cup either white or apple cider vinegar

½ cup water

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer cucumbers and onions in a jar or container with cover and sprinkle a little salt over them. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook until just hot, not boiling. Pour over the cucumbers and onions. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.

Pickle, Pickle, Pickle.

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Our sons, like their mom, liked to talk and did so early when they were babies.  One of Sean’s favorite early words was “pickle.”  We had a little book called Pickle Juice and when we read “pickle, pickle, pickle”, he would clap his hands and laugh out loud.  I smiled thinking about the pickle book and Sean’s laughter when I made two kinds of pickles last week. The weather had been perfect for a bumper crop of dill heads, so I bought some pickling cukes at the market.   I like to make refrigerator pickles because I don’t need to do a canning bath or soak cucumbers.  I found this recipe on The Old Farmers Almanac blog,  wwww.almanac.com and adapted it for my personal preference.

No canning or special equipment required! It’s simple, easy, and surprisingly delicious!

Ingredients:
3-1/2 cups water
1-1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon canning salt (NOT table salt)
1 tablespoon sugar
cucumbers, unpeeled, sliced into disks (about 4 cups)
2 cloves garlic (whole)
2 heads fresh dill ( I love dill, so I always use more)

Instructions:
Boil the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Turn off heat and set asidel. Add cucumbers, garlic, and dill to glass jars. Cover with the hot liquid. Put in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. I doubled the recipe when I filled these jars. The pickles should be good for 6 weeks. Enjoy!

Another garden harvest led to these yummy cauliflower pickles.  I cut two heads of cauliflower, one golden yellow (Cheddar is its name) and one white, added carrots, onions, and lots of yummy spices for this delicacy which is typically used as a condiment in Israeli breakfasts!

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Sausage and Rice Supper

There are some of our family favorite meals that are asked for all year round.  Sausage and Rice is one of those, but I keep it in my mental filing folder of cool weather dishes.  The flavors of root vegetables, peppers and sausage are heartily complimented with Basmati rice.  The colors even look like Fall.  And it makes enough to satisfy the most robust appetites as temperatures begin to come down and we are working more outside.  I have no “first made” date penned on the recipe I originally used, but since it was torn from an entire Southern Living magazine page, I look to see if the magazine date will tell me. I smile as I turn the page and look at the coupons on the back of the recipe and picture:  they expire in the fall of 1982.  So it is an easy conclusion that I have brought this to the table for nearly 20 years.  Our version that has grown during this time varies little but I do change the vegetables occasionally.  This is a dish that can easily be stretched by adding up to 1/2 cup rice and additional chicken broth.  Last night I served Basil Cucumbers and a fresh fruit cup for sides. A wonderful companion dish is apples with  butter, cinnamon and brown sugar baked along with the casserole. Wonderful for potlucks, and  definitely “good food on a budget!”

                                        Sausage and Rice Casserole

                                         1 cup uncooked Basmati rice

                                          2 cups sliced carrots

                                          1 large onion, chopped

                                          1 cup chopped celery

                                         1/2 cup chopped green pepper

                                          2 cups chicken broth

                                          1 pound pork sausage.  (we like maple flavored or hot and spicy)

                        Spread rice over bottom of large casserole dish which has been coated with cooking spray.  Scatter vegetables over rice, then pour chicken broth over all.  Brown and cook sausage, then add to top of vegetables.  Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven, stir well, replace cover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is done.  Makes 8 large servings.

                                                         Basil Cucumber Pickles

 I like cucumbers and vinegar to keep in the refrigerator in the summertime.  My mother and grandmother always peeled and sliced garden cumbers to add with layers of chopped or thinly sliced onion, salt and pepper and cover with white vinegar.  One of our favorite Indonesian dishes is Acar which is diced cucumber, carrot, onion, and hot peppers added to vinegar, sugar and water.  These cucumbesr may be the best yet.  I use unpeeled long seedless cucumbers from Canada and slice them thinly.  A handful of basil leaves from the garden and a touch of sweet mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)  give these pickled veggies a unique flavor that was perfect with our sausage and rice.

                    1/4 cup sugar

                     1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

                      3 tablespoons mirin

                      1 tablespoon sea salt

                      1 English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds

                        1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Whisk vinegar, mirin, sugar, and salt in a non reactive container.  Add cucumbers and basil and toss, covering as well as possible with the vinegar mix.  Refrigerate 3 or 4 hours, stirring occasionally.