TWO DELICIOUSLY REFRESHING CUCUMBER SALADS

Cucumber might be one of the most under-appreciated veggies, at least in our kitchen. I love raita, but rarely make it. At the grocery store, I grab every single veggie before inviting a cucumber into my shopping bag. But in the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a cucumber obsession, so today I share two recipes that will be part of our regular rotation from now on.

CUCUMBER & CRISPY CHICKPEAS WITH AVOCADO DRESSING


CUCUMBER AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH AVOCADO DRESSING
(adapted from Minimalist Baker)

for crispy chickpeas:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
spray of olive oil if using air-fryer, 1 tablespoon olive oil if baking

for salad:
2 large cucumbers, peeled in strips, seeds removed, sliced thin
1 avocado, mashed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
squirt of lemon juice
1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper
1/4 cup freshly chopped mint
1/4 cup freshly chopped dill

Make crispy chickpeas. Best way is with air-fryer. Spray with olive oil, season with paprika, salt and pepper, and cook for about 15 minutes in the highest temperature your fryer allows. Reserve.

When ready to make the salad, mash the avocado in a large bowl, squirt some lemon juice oven, then the olive oil, balsamic and the herbs. Season with salt. Mash it all well together. Add the slices of cucumber, toss with the creamy avocado dressing. Add the crispy chickpeas and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


This salad took Phil and I into a state of awe. I have a great friend who always says that food bloggers tend to use too many superlatives to describe their food, and I agree that can be annoying. But please allow me to say, this is an outstanding little salad, in which every ingredient works perfectly. Creamy, refreshing, hearty, we had zero leftovers. A moment of silence for my lunch next day, in which this salad was just a memory.

Moving on to version #2…

CUCUMBER & SHAVED CARROT SALAD WITH YOGURT-DILL DRESSING


CUCUMBER AND SHAVED CARROT SALAD WITH YOGURT-DILL DRESSING
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 cucumbers, peeled in strips, seeds removed, sliced very thin
1 tablespoon salt
1 large carrot, shaved in a box grater
1/2 cup full-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
fresh dill to taste, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Place the slices of cucumber in a colander, add the salt and let it sit for 30 minutes. Lighty rinse the slices, and dry them on a paper towel.

Make the dressing by mixing yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, agave nectar, dill and spices. Whisk well. Add the dressing to the slices of cucumber, incorporate the grated carrot. Leave the salad in the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I took two different approaches to the cucumber. In the first recipe I used them straight after slicing, whereas I salted them in the second version. As expected, in the salted version the cucumber had a slightly more tender texture. We loved them both ways, so if you are in a hurry, skip the salting in version #2, as it won’t compromise the outcome.

Both salads ended up as the star in our dinner, I highly recommend you consider increasing your consumption of cucumber, if you are also part of the team that keeps forgetting all about them…


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TURKEY TACO SALAD BOWL

I had no intention of blogging on this recipe because it sounded like a simple dinner that would be ok but nothing to write home about. That all changed with the first bite. It is undoubtedly the cilantro sauce that makes it special. Of course, if you are a cilantro-hater, this is not for you. The sauce is cilantro on steroids. We loved it. In fact, the husband exact words were “I hope you’ll make this sauce whenever we cook Mexican-anything.” There you go. Cannot get much better praise than that.

TURKEY TACO SALAD BOWL
(inspired by Averie Cooks)

4 large tortillas (I used Carb Balance flour tortillas)
a few tablespoons of vegetable oil
oven safe bowls to bake tortillas

for the Cilantro Lime Dressing:
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems included (about 2 cups)
½ cup full-fat yogurt
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lime

for the salad:
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix|
salt to taste
1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen, defrosted)
Romaine lettuce, shredded lettuce
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, sliced
Shredded Mexican cheese
salsa (I used tomatillo salsa)

Make the tortilla bows. Heat oven to 375F. Heat a little oil on a non-stick skillet, place the tortilla over the hot oil, when it starts to bubble, flip it over, heat for a few seconds, then place inside an oven-safe bowl. Bake for 15 minutes or until it gets crispy. You can do this in advance.

Make the dressing. Place the cilantro, yogurt, olive oil, salt, pepper and lime juice in a food processor and process until smooth. Reserve in the fridge until needed. You can also make the dressing hours or a day in advance.

Make the taco meat. Brown the ground turkey on hot oil, seasoned lightly with salt. Once the meat is getting some color, add the taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water. Simmer gently, cover the pan for 5 minutes, then uncover and let the water evaporate until it reaches the level you like for your salad.

To assemble the salad, add all different components inside the tortilla bowl, drizzle the cilantro dressing all over.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I used a Mission carb-balance tortilla, and it works but it’s definitely not the best kind to make a bowl, so keep that in mind. I only have two oven-safe bowls that are the perfect size to shape them, so we enjoyed some of the salad in the bowl, and either moved on to a regular tortilla (the husband), or the salad by itself (yours truly).

If you only have one or two oven-safe bowls, you can bake one at a time, and save them, heat them all up in the oven for a few minutes before serving. I used frozen corn, and sautéed lightly in olive oil, with salt, pepper and cumin. Pretty much anything that sounds good to add to a taco salad will work here. Black olives, roasted red peppers. Just have fun with it, but whatever you do, do not skip the cilantro sauce!

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GRILLED ROMAINE LETTUCE WITH TAHINI DRESSING AND CHICKPEAS

Another food trend I kind of twisted my nose at… grilled lettuce. How wrong can a person be? Very. I am here to gently invite you to the bright side. Don’t eye-roll, just trust me. It is absolutely delicious! You can do it on the outside grill or in the comfort of your kitchen using a non-stick grill pan, which is what I did. I don’t remember the husband getting so excited about a salad, but he gave this one two very enthusiastic thumbs up and insisted it must become part of our regular rotation. I am more than happy to “make it so.”

GRILLED ROMAINE LETTUCE WITH TAHINI DRESSING AND CHICKPEAS
(inspired by several sources)

2 heads of Romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, sliced in half lenghtwise
olive oil to rub on the surface
salt to taste to season
for the tahini dressing:
1/3 cup yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt to taste
water to adjust consistency

for the chickpeas:
1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
olive oil spray to coat chickpeas
salt to taste
smoked paprika to taste (or other spice of your choice)

Make the dressing: combine all ingredients except water in a blender. Blend until smooth, then add water until it reaches the consistency you like. Reserve.

Make the chickpeas: coat them with oil, season and air-fry for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Alternatively, roast them in a 425F oven until done.

Grill the lettuce: rub olive oil on the cut surface of the lettuce, season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill for about 3 minutes, flip the pieces and grill for just a couple of minutes on the other side. Transfer to a serving platter, opening the leaves a bit so that the dressing can reach in between them.

Drizzle the dressing, add the roasted chickpeas, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can grill the lettuce 30 minutes in advance, and just allow it to sit in the serving platter waiting for showtime. You must use Romaine, other lettuces cannot stand to the heat as well, although I did see some recipes using little butter lettuce heads cut in half. I have not tried to use them, to me they seem a bit too delicate. The dressing is so good I could eat it with a spoon. And of course, fried chickpeas take the concept of croutons to a whole new level. A little tip for you that worked super well for me: I air-fryed the chickpeas twice. After they were first made, I let them sit at room temperature, and then right before adding to the salad I fried them again for 2 minutes. The crispiness factor went off the charts. I have to try that again and write down some specific timing but keep this in mind if you own an air-fryer. Elaine and Karen, I am winking at you both!

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KAMUT AND BROCCOLI SALAD

If I am going to have a salad, my preference is a salad with substance, and a variety of textures and colors. No need to go all the way into a Chicken Caesar or a Steak Salad, but the addition of grains is more than welcome. I used quick-cooking kamut, but any type will work, just pay attention to the timing. Also, any other will be fine: barley, cracked wheat, or the beautiful farro.

KAMUT & BROCCOLI SALAD
(adapted from many sources)

1 cup cooked kamut, or amount to taste
2 broccoli heads, or amount to taste
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 apple, cut in pieces (I used Pink Lady)
1/4 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
grated ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste

The kamut can be prepared a day in advance if you like. Make sure it is cold when you make the salad. If you make it in advance, drizzle just a touch of olive oil to prevent the grains from sticking together. Separate the broccoli into florets and steam them for 3 minutes. Immediately run very cold water to stop the cooking. Cut the steamed broccoli into pieces. Reserve.

Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with lemon juice, add ginger, salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, add all the ingredients for the salad, pour the dressing and mix gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before serving, if possible.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The main inspiration for this recipe came from a cookbook I own, but that version served the broccoli raw and passed by the food processor. The pieces of raw broccoli were very small and lost in the middle of the grain, all acquiring the same green color. The way I chose to make it, was barely steaming the broccoli. This simple step tames its raw sharpness. Next, I cut the pieces with a knife, in small chunks. In my opinion, this makes the final product much more appealing not only visually, but as far as texture goes.

The apples and raisins are a must, and the cashews give that extra crunchiness that will leave you smiling… peanuts, walnuts, or pecans, can be used instead.

The added bonus of this salad: it holds quite well in the fridge. I made such a big portion that in fact it lasted two days, and on the second day I decided to warm it in the microwave for a minute. Perfect! A light lunch that needed absolutely nothing else to go with it.

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PASTA CHIP BHEL

Can you tell I am in love with this salad?

But first, a disclaimer… This is by no means an authentic bhel. If you are new to the term, bhel is a concoction from India, made with puffed rice and crispy sev noodles. I’ve found this version by complete accident and was so intrigued by it, I could not wait to try it. However, I have modified it substantially so if there was any resemblance with the authentic bhel, it is pretty much all gone… Can we still be friends?

PASTA CHIP BHEL
(adapted from Naturallynidhy)

for pasta chips:
1 cup cooked pasta (I used fusilli)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tsp black and white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

for the salad:
1 cup mixed colors shredded cabbage or store-bought cole slaw mix
1/2 cup matchstick carrots (or shredded in food processor)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet red chili sauce (I used Thai Kitchen)
1 tbsp black vinegar (or another vinegar of your choice)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
juice of 1/2 lime (or to taste)
salt to taste
sesame seeds to serve

Turn the air-fryer to the highest temperature (mine is 390F). Mix the pasta with oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Air-fry for about 10 minutes, until crispy and fragrant. If you don’t have an air-fryer, roast in the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes. Let it cool in a single layer over paper towels.

In a large bowl where you will serve the salad, make the dressing by mixing all oil, soy sauce, red chili sauce, vinegar, and chili flakes. Whisk well, then add a little lime juice, taste, and see if you’d like more lime juice. Add the pasta chips and all other ingredients to the bowl, toss well and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving, or longer in the fridge.

Add cilantro and more sesame seeds right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Talk about exotic flavors and textures, this salad has it all. I am now quite eager to make the real bhel, so stay tuned for that. One of my modifications was using the pasta more like you would “croutons” in a Caesar salad, just like an accent. I believe that in bhel the pasta is a main component.

All the amounts of veggies are suggestions, and super flexible. Use what you like, add other veggies if you prefer. But the idea is to have a lot of texture, and let the sauce barely smooth things out. The salad is vegan-friendly , but we “corrupted” it with grilled pork tenderloin. If you make the pasta as a main component of the salad, this could well work as a full dinner. One more thing, pay close attention to the air-frying step, and shake that pan often. It is easy to end up with some pasta crisps over-cooked. I am definitely making this or modifications of this version again and again.

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