If you have a generous supply of cherry tomatoes and like croutons, this salad is for you. It is an adaptation of a dish we ate at a quaint sidewalk cafe while visiting Hamburg, Germany, two years ago in August (well before the Covid-19 virus). Recently, I found a similar recipe on a German food blog, “Mediterraner Brotsaladmit Tomate-Mozzarella,” which roughly translates to “Mediterranean bread salad with tomato mozzarella.” Who else would think of naming a salad, “bread salad”? I am renaming the salad with emphasis on the tomatoes. It is a great way to jazz up cherry tomatoes by adding in flavorful croutons (with Mediterranean-type herbs) made with New Orleans-style French bread. Here is my recipe variation.Continue reading
This might be my best zucchini recipe of the summer, “Zucchini Lasagna.” When I queried my family on suggestions for using the giant, one-pound zucchini growing in my backyard garden, my son mentioned this recipe. And it is wonderful! Thin slices of the huge zucchini replace the lasagna noodles. Layer on a rich tomato sauce with the zucchini slices and mozzarella cheese and the result is a vegetarian “meal-in-one.” Plus, a layer of ricotta cheese, eggs and Parmesan cheese add a creamy filling — sort of a “surprise” in the recipe.
I fell in love with Detroit deep dish pizzas when I lived in that city many years ago. While researching the history of those pizzas, I ran across a “copycat” recipe for the pizza sauce. I made the sauce with a few variations, and just by chance, used Cento Chef’s Cut Tomatoes. That made all the difference. The sauce is thick and flavorful. I like it so much like that It has become my “go to” tomato sauce for spaghetti and pasta, lasagna and pizzas. And it makes a great dipping sauce for Focaccia bread. I am planning several posts which include the sauce in the recipes (such as zucchini lasagna and deep dish pizza) and decided to write a post just on the tomato sauce.Continue reading
I’m always looking for ways to use the endless supply of cucumbers growing in my garden. This recipe is just right on a hot summer day. It combines slices of cucumbers and white onions with a sour cream dressing. I added in just a little dried dill and fresh mint from my garden. And finally, a way to use my garden mint. For a variation, I made the recipe using non-fat plain yogurt for a healthy alternative.
Growing Mint in Louisiana Garden
Mint grows very well in a Louisiana garden; I have both peppermint and spearmint. In fact, mint is sort of like a weed and grows without any attention. The plants spread along runners and can quickly overtake a garden bed and everything in its way. On the positive side, mint grows best in a shady area of the garden–and I have several shady gardens. It is nice to step outside and pick a few aromatic leaves to add to a half-gallon of ice tea.
I don’t run across many recipes which use mint as an ingredient — cucumbers and sour cream is a good one and the mint adds a surprising and refreshing flavor. This is some of the spearmint growing in my garden.
Cucumbers also grow well in Louisiana. I planted these in early April and the began to get ripe cucumbers in May. (The cucumbers are the plants in the foreground of this photo.) I always get carried away and purchase too many seedling plants — but I want to make sure I have some to harvest. Most of these cucumbers became pickles. And we pick a few every night for salads.
This recipe is very easy to make. Here are the ingredients for “Cool Cucumbers with Sour Cream & Mint.” I like to use smaller cucumbers, if possible, in this salad. And an onion? I like to add a small, sweet white onion. Why? Well, I love onions and this adds a flavorful contrast to the cucumbers.
To make the recipe, slice the cucumbers and onion. A mandoline slicer makes this task much easier and the cucumbers come out evenly sliced. I especially like the hand holder on the slicer — it prevents your fingers from getting nicked, too. How many times has that happened?
Should you peel the cucumbers? Cucumbers purchased at a grocery store are sometimes waxed for longer preservation. These should definitely be pared (or peeled). And for cucumbers from a garden or farmer’s market, peeling them is optional. Towards the end of the season when the cucumbers are larger with many seeds, I prefer to peel them and hollow out the seeds. I find that paring also helps remove the bitter taste which is sometimes found with cucumbers late in the season which were subjected to dry growing conditions.
I made a tasty variation to this salad using non-fat plain yogurt replacing the sour cream. I added a little olive oil to the dressing. It makes a very healthy and low-fat alternative and tasted just as good. Couldn’t tell the difference.
Here’s “Cool Cucumbers with Sour Cream & Mint.” This is a flavorful way to use cucumbers. In the summer months, when cucumbers are easily found in farmers markets and grocery stores, its a good time to use fresh vegetables.
Cool Cucumbers with Sour Cream & Mint with a Yogurt Variation
- 2 medium cucumbers (12 oz or 2 cups peeled and sliced)
- 1 small sweet, white onion
- 1/2 cup sour cream or plain non-fat yogurt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (omit if using sour cream)
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely torn, plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp dried dill seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
Method and Steps:
- Wash the cucumbers and remove any rough nubs. Cut off about 1/4 inch from each end and discard., If desired, pare skin from cucumbers and hollow out removing seeds.
- Using mandoline slicer, slice cucumber into thin slices. Place in medium size bowl. Set aside.
- Peel onion, slice thinly using mandoline slicer, separate into individual rings and add to cucumbers, alternating layers.
- In small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients–sour cream, dill, finely minced mint and salt. (If using non-fat plain yogurt, add olive oil.)
- Pour dressing over cucumber and onion slices, carefully toss to combine.
- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, place in refrigerator and chill for several hours.
- Prior to serving, remove from refrigerator and garnish with fresh mint.
When healthy tastes good…..It is much easier to eat a healthy breakfast when it also tastes good. I brought out the Ninja Smoothie maker again this summer to make coffee frappés and began experimenting with smoothies, too. I “invented” a wonderful oatmeal and banana smoothie. It is filling and tasty and and very nutritious. I enjoy sitting in the sun in the morning sipping my smoothie for some added health benefits — read on. Best of all, made with almond milk, this smoothie is lactose-free.Continue reading