Quick & Cool Summer Meals: Cucumber Salad and Tomato Veggie Saute
The heat continues here in Philadelphia and my desire to cook wanes. I'm looking for quick, cool meals to make these days or I want recipes that utilize most of my vegetables from the CSA Farm Share I receive each week from Landisdale Farms of Lancaster County. Ideally I should be eating several vegetables and fruit with every meal but when it's hot sometimes it's easier to forgo what's smart and grab what's on hand - usually something not so healthy and way too laden with carbs. Fortunately I was cool enough as these cucumbers to whip together a healthy, non-fat version of my Polish grandmother's (Bobbci) infamous cucumber and sour cream dish. I also made a great saute of tomatoes, shallots, scallions, carrots, zucchini and basil - loads and loads of basil. Most of these vegetables were in last week's farm share and I had to utilize them before they went bad and this week's share arrives.
The cucumbers I used are Persian Cucumbers, small, thin skinned and with digestible seeds. No need to peel or de-seed. My pasta dish was served over farfalle or bow-tie/butterfly pasta. Small shaped pastas work best for chunky style tomato sauces. I happened to have had some cooked grilled turkey sausages so I tossed those into my finished dish for dinner. For work, I'll keep the sausages at home, they aren't kosher and I'm not about to break any religious rules at the synagogue where I work. You can add any kind of protein to round out the meal, grilled chicken, shrimp, sausages, etc but for a true vegetarian dish add in cooked white beans or chick peas to keep the protein levels high.
Polish Style Cucumber Salad Ingredients:
- 2 Thin-skinned Cucumbers - I used Persian Cucumbers - cleaned and sliced into 1/8-inch thick rounds
- 1 Small Scallion - diced
- 2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar
- Pinch of Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1- 6 ounce container of Plain, Non-Fat Greek Style Yogurt (or 1/2 cup equivalent)
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Dill or 1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill
- Wash Cucumbers, if using traditional cucs, peel the cucs leaving some strips of the skin around them. Slice thinly - about 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place into a mixing bowl.
- Cut the scallions into thin, small dice or rounds and toss with the sliced cucumbers
- Pour the 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper over the cucumber/scallion mixture.
- Stir in the plain, non-fat yogurt and toss to combine.
- Garnish with the dill. Serve cold, immediately. Serves 4. Will hold for 1 day, tightly covered and refrigerated.
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Large Shallot or Medium Onion - sliced into 1/2 moon rounds (1/4 inch thick)
- 1 Scallion - small dice (optional)
- 3 Garlic Cloves - minced
- 2 Medium Carrots - peeled and coarsely shredded
- 1 Medium Zucchini - coarsely shredded
- 1 & 1/2 to 2 Pints Grape or Cherry Tomatoes - cut in half
- 1 Large Bunch of Fresh Basil - Chiffonade (roughly chopped)
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley - coarsely chopped
- Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
- 1 Cup Pasta Cooking Water
- 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Box of Cooked Shaped Pasta - such as Farfalle, Penne or Rotinni
- Grated Cheese of Choice - for serving
- Cook the pasta in a pot salted water, according to package directions. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and keep the pasta warm. Cover and set aside.
- Preheat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, non-stick saute pan. When the oil begins to shimmer, add in the sliced shallots or onions and scallions and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and saute another minute.
- Next add in the shredded carrots and zucchini and saute for 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to release their liquid.
- Add the halved cherry or grape tomatoes; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Break the tomatoes apart with the back of a wooden spoon if neccesary. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Add in the pasta cooking water and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce slightly so the sauce tightens. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Toss in the chopped basil and parsley before serving over the cooked pasta. Serve hot or cold with grated cheese of choice. Makes 6 to 8 servings.