Showing posts with label cucumber salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cucumber salad. Show all posts

Monday, September 5, 2016

Salad without Lettuce or Tomatoes!

Happy Labor Day!

While today marks the end of summer for many of us, it's really the day we should look back on the people who built this country. The ones we never heard of and probably never will. The people who went to work every day in factories, or built the railroads or the amazing skyscrapers. They weren't rich and they often had dangerous jobs.

When I built my house, I did a little bit of everything. I laid tile, I built a concrete block wall, I painted, and tried my hand at a little bit of framing. Of course, that doesn't begin to compare to what laborers really do. But it certainly gave me a new appreciation for the people who work construction. What was the hardest job of all? Working with stone. I reserved a small wall and put the stone on it myself. Why is it so hard? That stone is heavy! Just carrying it to the wall is exhausting. It took me three days to build that wall. And every single day, I was covered in mortar from head to toe. Several T-shirts and pairs of sneakers lost their lives in the process.

So today, when you kick back with a frosty drink, look around you. Because someone built the dock, or the street, or the building in which you live. Raise your glass to them today in thanks.

And now-a recipe.

I confess that I make quite a few dishes that I don't deem worthy of posting on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Recently I made a blueberry upside down cake that was just way too sweet. But I thought it would work with bananas. Ick. It just wasn't a good recipe.

This recipe came very close to falling into the not worthy category. After all, is it really a recipe when all you do is chop veggies? When I first tried it, I thought it was okay but nothing special. Hours later, I ate it for dinner and changed my mind completely. The truth is that I would make it again. And that makes it worthy, I think.

I confess that I use Mystery Lovers' Kitchen as my own handy dandy recipe reference. No misplaced scraps of paper. I know my recipes are here and often look them up to make them again.

So what changed my mind? The flavors need a few hours to meld. I made it at three in the afternoon, and ate it for dinner six hours later. What a difference! The bacon makes the dish. It added just the right saltiness, and even though it doesn't contain much bacon, only four slices, the flavor penetrates and changes the dish.

I began this recipe in an attempt to use up cucumbers. It's the end of the summer, and while our tomatoes did not have a blockbuster yield, we're up to our ears in cucumbers and red peppers. Peppers freeze very well, so they're going into freezer bags. Just wash, dry, slice and freeze. When you need them in the winter, pop them into the dish you're making. They're not as pretty thawed, but they can be used that way, too.

Cucumbers, though, are very watery. There are tons of recipes on line about pickling them before freezing them. Um, maybe. I'll let you know if I try. But the point is that we're eating a lot of cucumbers. I'm not joking when I say we like them best when they're small. They make a great snack fresh from the vine.

What do I like about this recipe?

1. You're eating your veggies! So healthy!
2. It's very flexible. Don't like black beans? Use kidney beans. Add cilantro if you're a fan.
3. Except for the bacon, you don't have to turn on the oven. Easy and cool!
4. Taking it to work for lunch? Add a cup of quinoa for protein.
5. You can make it in advance and nothing wilts even though it's already dressed!

Cucumber Harvest Salad

4 slices bacon
1 10-ounce package frozen corn
2 cups diced cucumber (about one large cucumber)
1 15-ounce can black beans
1/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup red pepper, in bite-sized pieces (about 1 red pepper)
cilantro (optional)

Cook the bacon. Spread the corn on paper towels so it can thaw. (Bacon and corn can be prepared in advance.) If you have a grocery store cucumber, you may wish to peel off the waxed exterior. Cut the cucumber into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add black beans, onion, and red pepper. Crumble the bacon into the bowl and add the thawed corn. (If you're a fan of cilantro, chop and add.) Stir to combine. Dress with your favorite dressing and allow to sit about six hours before serving.

Honey Dressing

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Place everything in a small bowl. Whisk together with a mini-whisk. Adjust ingredients to taste.

Colorful! Just toss it in a big bowl.
Makes a lovely side dish (or light dinner!)

It's that time of year again. Halloween is coming. Have you read The Diva Haunts the House? I'm going to pick one lucky winner, who can chose between these two books. Leave a comment with your email address and preferred book to enter. 

Good Luck and Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Baked Garden Greens and Cheesy Grits with Cucumber Salad

Kids and my brother with Bandit, Tommy Moe, and Chubby Checkers

Back in the days when the kids were little, we didn't have any trouble disposing of our extra chard--we fed it to the pet guinea pigs! These days, when the garden really gets cooking, I have to work at coming up with recipes.

By now you know I'm crazy for cheese grits (AKA polenta), so when I saw a recipe starring greens and grits, I couldn't resist tweaking. This is a good meal for the night after you've indulged in an enormous burger, maybe with bacon and cheese on it, and you're feeling a craving for vegetables:) (If you are not in a vegetable mode, stop before the egg is added (see below) and top with Bolognese sauce.)

The grits:

2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup water
1 cup cornmeal grits (polenta)
1 Tbsp butter
1 egg
1 cup grated cheese

Heat 2 cups of chicken broth and one cup water to boiling. Pour in one cup of yellow cornmeal grits, stirring so it doesn't get lumpy. Cook this on low heat until it's thick, stirring frequently. Take the grits off the heat, stir in one tablespoon butter (if desired) and half a cup of grated cheese of your choice. (I chose cheddar.) When the grits have cooled, beat in one egg.

Meanwhile, chop one smallish onion and saute until soft. Wash and chop one large bunch of greens (kale, chard, or spinach.) Add them to the frying onions and continue to cook until the greens are soft.

In a well-oiled 8 by 8 inch pan, layer half the grits, then the greens mixture, then the rest of the grits. Top with another half a cup of grated cheddar and grate several tablespoons of Parmesan over all.

Bake at 375 until bubbly and beginning to brown, about 25 min.

I served this with a Japanese-style cucumber salad, which made a small dent in our cuke harvest. This fabulous recipe is courtesy of Joan Emerson, who had tasted something like this at a restaurant.

She did the hard work of teasing out the best flavors.

Thinly slice two large cucumbers
Finely chop three scallions (I used 1/2 onion instead)

For the dressing, mix:

Two tablespoons soy sauce
One tablespoon sesame oil
One tablespoon sugar
Four tablespoons vinegar

Gently toss together with cukes and onion; let stand at least one hour before serving. Make more than you think you'll eat--it goes fast!

Lucy is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries, available wherever books are sold! You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.