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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MARINATED CHICKPEAS WITH SLOW-ROASTED RED PEPPERS

I follow a group of food bloggers I completely trust. Kelly from Inspired Edibles is part of this group. When she raves about a recipe, I usually jump on making it. This is the most recent example, and I know if you make it you will rave about it also. Two things: do not be tempted to use canned chickpeas. And go for the slow-roasting of bell peppers. These two small details make the dish shine.

MARINATED CHICKPEAS WITH SLOW-ROASTED RED PEPPERS
(adapted from Inspired Edibles)

for the veggie mixture:
1 + 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (from 1 1/4 cup dry)
2 large red bell peppers, cut into strips
110 g Feta cheese
60 g pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
parsley to serve

for the marinade:
⅓ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
¾ tsp salt or to taste
black pepper to taste
½ Tbsp honey

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. Next day, drain and rinse, then cook in slightly salted water until tender, but still al dente – about 40 minutes. the chickpeas in a large pot with lots of water until desired consistency is achieved (for this recipe, I prefer the chickpeas to have some texture – not too mushy – so I aim for al dente, it takes over 1 hour). This step can be made in advance.

Heat oven to 300F and prepare the marinade by whisking together all the ingredients. Make sure when you add the honey that it gets fully integrated with the other components.

Place the cooked chickpeas (ideally still warm) in serving platter with tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese. intermingle with tomatoes, onion, olives and half of the feta. Pour the marinade over top, tossing gently to combine.

While the chickpea mixture marinades at room temperature, spread the sliced peppers out on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1.5-2 Tbsp olive oil and add a couple shakes of salt, and roast for about one hour. Add them to the chickpea mixture, and serve, sprinkled with parsley leaves.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This recipe is a winner, all the way. Leftovers were fantastic next day and even better on the second day. I warmed everything in the microwave, just barely, and there was no compromise in the texture, the taste of the marinade just got more intense. Perfect.

Make sure to stop by Kelly’s blog and read her post, as she offers a different way to enjoy it, with cucumbers in tzatziki sauce. The key is to cook the chickpeas from scratch. Totally different from canned, which works fine for other preparations such as hummus. The slow-roasting of the bell peppers is another great twist, they develop a milder flavor and very soft texture.

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AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE

This is a winning combination that I urge you to try whenever you find fresh pomegranates to play with. In our neck of the woods, it’s not always available. I prefer to buy the pomegranate seeds in those little jars because I am not too fond of the work needed to extract them from the fruit. Yes, I am familiar with all the tricks, but in this particular case, I opt for the easy way out.

AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower, florets only
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste
pomegranate seeds

for the tahini sauce:
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup water to adjust consistency (you may need less)

Coat the cauliflower florets with the oil, season with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Place in the air-fryer at 390F or as high as your fryer goes. Cook the florets until they start to get brown at the edges, shaking the basket every once in a while. While the cauliflower fries, make the sauce.

Mix all ingredients for the sauce (except the water) in a food processor and process until smooth. It will be very thick. Slowly add the water, until you get to the consistency you like.

Transfer the cauliflower to a serving platter, drizzle the sauce all over and sprinkle pomegranate seeds, as many as your heart desires.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I adore cauliflower and I am crazy for tahini. It was odd that it took me so long to put both together. If you don’t have pomegranate seeds, kalamata olives will work well for the contrast of color and that sharp flavor. A shower of black sesame or Nigella seeds could be great too. Anything to give some contrast to the cauliflower-sauce duet. Because our air-fryer is small, when I made this recipe there were no leftovers. Actually I did have extra sauce that was drizzled on all sorts of goodies for a couple of days. If you want to make this dish for company (or if you do not own an air-fryer), go for oven-roasting, 425F works like a charm. It just takes longer and the texture won’t be as crispy.

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ORIENTAL-STYLE SESAME SLAW

I love cole slaw, but prefer a dressing without mayonnaise. Something fresh, light, and bright. This version couples orange juice with sesame oil. I add just a little squirt of lemon juice at the very end because I crave that extra acidity. Some might try to convince me that incorporating the lemon juice in the dressing would do the same job, but I beg to differ. In fact, when I ate the leftovers, I did a little lemon juice encore, and loved it even more.

ORIENTAL-STYLE SESAME SLAW
(adapted from several sources)

for the dressing:
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

for the salad:
3 cups shredded napa cabbage
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
fresh cilantro leaves, amount to taste
black sesame seeds to serve
fresh lemon juice to serve

Start by making the dressing. Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup or flask with a lid, and whisk or shake to emulsify. Reserve.

In a large serving bowl, add all ingredients for the salad except the black sesame seeds, combine tossing gently, then pour the dressing on top. Toss again and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds, add lemon juice, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: f you like cole slaw but mayonnaise is not your thing, this will for sure please you. It gets even better next day, as all components are so sturdy. I made it twice already, the second time I added fresh orange zest together with the black sesame seeds before serving and that was a nice extra touch of flavor. Avocado goes quite well with it, keep that in mind. Not much else is needed to make this a complete meal. We enjoyed ours with a rotisserie chicken, so that was a super easy dinner to put together. The recipe can be easily adapted to a Whole30 system, if you don’t use soy sauce, and replace it with coconut aminos.

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CAULIFLOWER WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND OLIVES

This is cauliflower that deserves a spot at your table when you have special guests for dinner. Amazing that we can now write such a phrase after a couple of years of social isolation. I go as far as saying that even cauliflower haters will be pleasantly surprised. The sun-dried tomatoes add richness and the olives and balsamic vinegar that acidity that lightens things up. Absolutely delicious. And, by the way, it is vegan-friendly.

CAULIFLOWER WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND OLIVES
(inspired by Crossroads)

1 head cauliflower, florets only, chopped in pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil (for oven roasting) or olive oil spray for air-frying
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
slivered almonds, slightly toasted, to taste

If roasting the cauliflower in an oven, drizzle the florets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in 425F oven for about 30 minutes. If using the air-fryer, spray the florets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and air-fry for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Reserve. The cauliflower can be roasted hours in advance or even the day before.

Put a large saute pan over medium-heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the celery and shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers and cook for a few minutes longer, stirring often. Add the reserved cauliflower, the balsamic vinegar, adjust seasoning. Right before serving, add lemon zest and juice, and top with the toasted slivered almonds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I don’t know which ingredient elevates this recipe, it is a tight match between the sun-dried tomatoes and the green olives. At any rate, it was an outstanding side dish. I highly recommend it. We enjoyed it with grilled chicken breasts, super simple. Just a marinade with olive oil, Garam masala and salt.

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