Keep summer vegetables at the centre of meals this year

Smashed cucumber salad may become your summer favourite. It’s cool and crisp and either makes a good side dish or can be served on rice 
vermicelli for a main course. | Sarah Galvin photo

It’s peak of the season at farmers markets and home gardens across the country but what do you do with the armfuls of fresh vegetables? Are you tired of the same old recipes? Want to try something new?

I have spent the past couple of weeks testing recipes and looking for new ways to use the same ingredients, all with good nutrition in mind. Canola oil and olive oil are the best oils for good health. Keep ingredients such as salt, sugar and natural sweeteners at a minimum. Use processed foods sparingly or not at all.

Smashed cucumber salad

This Asian-influenced way of making cucumber salad can become your new favourite this summer. Try serving it as a side dish at a barbecue or serve it over prepared rice vermicelli noodles for the main course.

  • 1 lb. cucumbers 500 g
  • 3/4 tsp. salt 3 mL
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped 30 mL
  • 1/4 c. green onions,sliced 60 mL
  • 1 pkg. rice vermicelli, optional

Vinaigrette:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar 22 mL
  • 2 tsp. toastedsesame oil 10 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ginger,freshly grated 7 mL
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar 2 mL

Bash the cucumbers until they split open on the sides using something heavy like a rolling pin. Cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks then place in a bowl.

Sprinkle with salt, toss, leave for 20 minutes. Drain excess liquid in the bowl. As you drain the liquid you will also be draining most of the salt.

Make the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake well. Drizzle over cucumbers, sprinkle with cilantro and green onions. Toss and serve immediately.

If you want to serve this over rice vermicelli double the recipe for the dressing. Prepare rice vermicelli according to package directions

Beluga lentil andcorn salad

To save on dirty dishes make the dressing in the salad bowl first and then add all the ingredients and mix well.

Salad:

  • 3 c. corn, frozen or cooked fresh and kernels removed fromcob 750 mL
  • 1 c. cooked belugalentils 250 mL
  • 6 slices cooked bacon
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped 15 mL
  • 3 tbsp. red onion, finely diced 45 mL
  • 1/4 c. poblano peppers, charred over a flame or in a dry pan and chopped 60 mL

Dressing:

  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise 125 mL
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp. chili powder 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder 5 mL
  • kosher salt
  • freshly groundblack pepper

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir until ingredients are completely mixed and coated in dressing. Garnish with herbs, if desired, then serve.

Beet salad

  • 1 lb. baby beets with beet greens
  • oil for drizzling

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 c. extra virgin oliveoil 125 mL
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 45 mL
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard 15 mL
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper .5 mL

Cut the greens off the beets leaving about an inch on the top of the beet. Lay the beets on a baking sheet and lightly drizzle with oil. Roast in the oven at 350 F (180 C) until tender.

Meanwhile wash and coarsely chop the beet greens. Put in a pot with a lid and steam them with a little water until tender. Remove from pot, drain and lay on a serving platter.

When the beets are fully cooked and cooled, peel them and arrange on top of the greens. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve at room temperature.

Traditional Greek salad

This easy Greek salad recipe is a flavourful, refreshing summer side dish. To save time make the dressing ahead of time and refrigerate. While you are at it double or triple the recipe. It will keep well in the refrigerator for two or more weeks.

Salad:

  • 1 cucumber, cut lengthwise, seeded,and sliced 1/4 inchthick .5 cm
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces 2.5 cm
  • 2 c. halved cherrytomatoes 500 mL
  • 5 oz. feta cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes 140 g, 1.25 cm
  • 1/3 c. thinly slicedred onion 75 mL
  • 1/3 c. pitted Kalamataolives 75 mL
  • 1/3 c. fresh mint leaves, optional 75 mL

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 c. extra virginolive oil 60 mL
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar 45 mL
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, plus more for sprinkling 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt 1 mL
  • freshly groundblack pepper

To make the vinaigrette whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, salt and several grinds of pepper together in a small bowl.

On a large platter, arrange the cucumber, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, red onions and olives. Drizzle with the dressing and very gently toss. Sprinkle with a few generous pinches of oregano and top with the mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Spinach yogurt dip

  • 1/2 c. walnuts 125 mL
  • 5 c. fresh spinach 1.25 L
  • 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oilor canola oil,divided 60 mL
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves,thinly sliced
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. dried herbs such as oregano, mint 5 mL
  • 1 c. plain whole-milk Greek yogurt 250 mL
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 15 mL
  • freshly groundblack pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Toast walnuts on a baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, six to eight minutes. Let cool and finely chop.

Place a medium skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 cup (125 mL) water. As soon as you see bubbles, add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted.

Transfer spinach to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and lock in its bright green colour. Drain and squeeze out excess liquid. Finely chop spinach and set aside.

Wipe out skillet and heat two tablespoons (10 mL) oil over medium heat.

Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until soft but without taking on any colour, six to eight minutes. Add garlic and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened, two to three minutes. Add the spinach to further dry it. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Combine yogurt, lemon juice, onion mixture, half of the walnuts and spinach in a medium bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Pour into a shallow serving bowl and use the back of a spoon to carve a few swirls into the dip. Top with remaining walnuts and drizzle with oil. Serve with raw vegetables, crostini or crackers.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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