Three Cucumber Salads

Cucumber Salad

Why three cucumber salads in one post? Because I got 15 pounds of cucumbers from the Food Bank’s Harvest Share program and cucumbers do not keep that well without some vinegar. So, I spent a long time slicing and dicing and mixed up three huge salads. Two of them based on my mom’s delicious old-fashioned cucumber salad.

This is mom’s recipe. Slice your cucumbers no more than 1/4 inch thick. I used a mandoline and easily sliced wafer thin slices. Layer the slices in a container with high sides, lightly salting between layers. I used Glad’s 13 cup family size container which held about 8 -10 large cucumbers, sliced. I put a sheet of wax paper over the container and set my cast iron fry pan on top of the wax paper and then put my tea kettle on top of that so it was weighted down heavily. I left it for a few hours and came back to add the dressing.

After two hours, I dumped the cucumbers into a big colander and let them drain. Rinsing the Glad container to get the saltiness out, I mixed the dressing right in the container while the cukes drained. I used 2 cups of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 TBSP of dill weed, 1 tsp of garlic salt, and 2 tsp of celery seed.  I squeezed the juice out of the cucumbers, added them back into the container with the dressing and refrigerated overnight so they absorbed back the fluid I had drawn out with salt. Now they are saturated with a fresh dill flavor that has a mild bite. Makes 10 cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

I only made about 7 cups of this salad. To make it I cut the cucumbers into 4-6 inch long lengths that I shredded on the mandoline, making threads of cucumber. I also sliced and diced finely two purple onions. I salted and let rest for about an hour. Squeezing out the excess, I grated the zest of two limes over the salad, mixing it in. Then,  squeezed the lime juice into a sauce bowl for the dressing. I added 3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar, 2 TBSP of soy sauce, salt, pepper, and 2 tsp of red pepper flakes. I poured on top of the cucumber and onions, shook and let sit to absorb flavors for a few hours. This is a spicy, tangy salad with that delicious earthy tang of limes and the heat of peppers.  It’s delicious on a sandwich with pulled pork. Makes six cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

These are pepper-salted cucumber slices, also a recipe from my mom. As before, I sliced the cucumbers, layering with salt until I filled the 13 cup container. I added weight on top of them and let them sit for two hours to draw out the liquid. I drained them in a colander, squeezing out all the liquid I could.

In the 13 cup plastic container, I added 2 cups of vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 TBSP of pepper. I mixed together, Added the cucumber and let it soak up the vinegar overnight. This has a fresh vinegary taste with a bit of bite from the pepper, fresh and cool followed by just a bit of heat. Makes 10 cups.

Pomegranate Relish or Dressing

Pomegranate Dressing or Relish

It’s pretty easy to clean a pomegranate, just cut it in half and pull the edges than knock it on the outside with a spoon and the seeds fall out. However, at Harvest Share this week, I got two packages of already cleaned pomegranate seeds. Sadly, however, they were already past their sweet spot and had turned sour and vinegary. I know some people would toss it out, since it was beginning to change, but pomegranate is acidic and just being past its prime does not make it a home for bacteria, just very sour flavor. I knew I could fix it and enjoy this fruit I really love. I just had to figure out how. Since it was already very vinegary, it made sense to use it as a sort of vinegar and make a salad dressing or a relish. But first I had to figure out what could balance the sourness. I pulled out aromatic spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and anise and tried a few grains with one pomegranate seed to see what I liked best. Both the nutmeg and the cardamon tried, but they added heat as well as balance and I wanted to make it more mellow, so I chose anise.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 8 oz pomegranate seeds
  • 4 TBSP rice vinegar

I put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan with ½ tsp of anise seed and heated to release the oils and flavor the oil. I then added 2 tsp of minced fresh ginger. I sliced ½ of a yellow onion into slivers and added to the olive oil, cooking until tender. I then added the 8 oz package of pomegranate seeds and cooked just until it started to break down. I added 4 TBSP of  rice vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. This made enough dressing for 4 large salads. It would also work well as a relish on the side where you might use cranberries, with pork, turkey, or sausage.

Here are a few salads made with the dressing. A simple salad with pecans and feta. A dinner salad with chicken sautéed with a bit of Old Bay. A dinner salad with some carne asada marinated in soy sauce and vinegar with some garlic, pears charred on the electric burner, and feta cheese.

 

Southwest Cole Slaw

Salad

  • 1 small head of green cabbage, chopped fine, salted
  • 1 small head of red cabbage, chopped fine, salted
  • 10 carrots, in ¼ in strips
  • 8 tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced fine and chopped

Dressing: Drop everything in a blender or magic bullet and blend

  • 6 limes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1½ cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce

The cabbage should be chopped first and left in a colander, salted to bring out the liquid so the slaw does not turn watery. Wring the cabbage out after it has sat for 30-45 minutes. Then add the carrots, onions, and tomatillos. Mix. Add dressing and shake to distribute dressing over the entire slaw. Do not serve for at least 30 minutes so the flavors begin to marry.

This is a very light, fresh cole slaw. Despite the Sriracha and the ginger, it is not that hot. It just has a bit of zing. The tomatillos add a tartness that is fabulous and there is the layer of lime that is right there, adding that citrusy note but it not bitter. I chopped everything very small to make it work well on sandwiches or even dropped into a bowl of chili or soup. There is just enough dressing to coat the veggies and soak in a bit, but not enough to leave a layer of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, so it does not saturate the bread and when you sauté it with some pasta or rice, it does not add a lot of oil.

This is a big batch. It made 4 quarts of cole slaw and I gave half to my best friend who went with me to Harvest Share. However, the thing with cole slaw that does not have a creamy dressing, that has no buttermilk, yogurt, mayo, or sour cream, is that it will last for several days…which means it is there for several meals and there is nothing more versatile.

 

Carrot Salad

I made a sandwich using a delicious carrot salad. The sandwich is definitely not vegan, but the salad is. I ate it both as a salad and as a sandwich slaw. It worked great for both.

4 carrots, peeled and sliced using the peeler into lots of thin strips

8 green onions, chopped into small pieces.

Mix together with 1 TBSP of olive oil and 2 TBSP of rice vinegar,

Add salt, pepper, and a tsp of red pepper flakes. Cover and shake. Store in the fridge overnight for the flavors to soak into the carrots.

It’s a bright and tart salad. Carrots are sweet, so they balance the heat of the red pepper flakes and the tart vinegar and the bite of the onions beautifully. They add a nice bit of crunch and freshness to this sandwich.

Sandwich Slaw

I love slaw on my sandwiches. I love the freshness it brings, the crunch, the tang of vinegar. It is what really makes a sandwich. I generally just throw a few things together without hard and fast rules. There is no wrong way to make a slaw, but this slaw is kind of perfect. I use seasoned rice vinegar which is one of my favorite things.

I cut about 1/3 of a small head of cabbage into thin strips and then chopped the opposite direction for a finely shredded chop. This gave me four cups of cabbage that I put in a big colander. I sprinkled with a teaspoon of salt and let it sit, the salt bringing out the liquid, for several hours. (Actually, I left it overnight.)

The next day, I squeezed the liquid out of the cabbage, put it in a bowl and added

  • 1 cup of chopped yellow onions
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups of chopped cilantro
  • zest from 1 lemon

I mixed these together. Then I squeezed the lemon and added the juice with an equal amount of seasoned rice vinegar, some pepper, and 1 TBSP of olive oil. It should have enough salt from the salting the night before. Season it to your taste.

I know the usual ratio in dressing is 2:1 oil to vinegar and this is the opposite, but this makes it tangy. It doesn’t exactly pickle the slaw, but it gives it a light, bright, zing that I want.

This makes enough for six sandwiches, more or less, depending on how much you like to use. I use this with bacon, sausage, or in this example, pulled pork. It makes a perfect sandwich or on a tostada shell, a delightful, fresh tostada.

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Red Chard Salad with Red Onions, Parm & Poached Egg

Red Chard Salad with Poached Egg, Parm & Dressing.

I tossed some red chard with the Mustard Vinaigrette and let it rest, letting the vinaigrette “cook” it for about 15 minutes while I poached an egg. I sliced parmesan on top and laid the poached egg on the top of the salad.

I poach eggs in a a sauce pan with a few inches of simmering water. I add a bit of vinegar to the water. Crack the egg in a small bowl first so you can slip it into the water rather than drop it. You can stir around the outside of the egg to encourage the white to sort of spin together using centrifugal force. Turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan and let rest for 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the water without bringing water to ruin your salad.

Break the yolk and stir the yolk into the salad, mixing it with the vinaigrette. It makes a creamy sort of vinaigrette.

Roasted & Fresh Brussel Sprouts & Bacon Salad with Parm & Mustard Vinaigrette

Bacon & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Parmesan and Mustard Vinaigrette

Make the Mustard Vinaigrette first – at least an hour before serving. This makes enough dressing for several salads.

Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Stir mustard and vinegar together with a whisk, add oil slowly, whisking it int o emulsify. Add salt, pepper and crushed garlic. Let rest for at least an hour. Keep refrigerated.

Salad

Lay four strips of bacon on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400° until browned. Remove when finished (about 8 minutes) and set on a paper towel to cool.

While the bacon roasts, cut 2 cups of brussels sprouts in half, pulling off some of the outer leaves. Set the leaves aside.

Turn the oven up to 450°, toss the brussels sprout halves with 1 TBSP of bacon grease, salt and pepper and lay on a baking sheet to roast. These will be just roasted until done, not charred, so about 10 minutes max.

Bacon & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Parmesan and Mustard Vinaigrette

See that the brussels sprouts are only lightly browned.

Slice small pieces of parmesan and chop a bit of parsley.

To assemble the salad, lay down the brussels sprouts, the bacon, the parm, the loose, fresh brussels sprout leaves, the parsley and then add the dressing. Toss lightly.

Apricot Pear Sandwich Slaw

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Chop about 1 cup of red cabbage and lightly salt, setting it aside while you make the dressing.

Chop up 5 dried apricots into small pieces. Heat a clean, empty saucepan (no oil, no butter) to med. Add about 5 anise seeds and warm until aromatic. Toss in the dried apricots and an equal amount of water, about 1/4 cup. Cook until the apricots fall apart and are tender, adding more water if necessary. When the water is all soaked into the apricots, add 2 TBSPs of rice vinegar and stir quickly. Toss into cabbage, season with salt and pepper to taste.

With just four ingredients, this achieves a subtle and complex flavor, blending the aromatic pungency of the anise with the sweet tartness of apricots, the bite of the vinegar and the fresh crunch of cabbage. It’s delightful on its own but I made it as a sandwich slaw to use with slice pork roast on bread.

However, before I started to make this, I got a wild idea to make a different kind of sandwich and ended up using it in an amazing sandwich made with Bacon, Eggs, Onions, Pears and Parm. This is plenty for 4 to 6 sandwiches, or a couple small side salads.

Rocket & Chickpea Salad with Cantaloupe Dressing

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I made the salad dressing earlier and let it refrigerate so the flavors were mellowed and blended. I used a Magic Bullet™ but a blender or food processor would work even better.  My inspiration was a Linguini al Melone I had several years back at Martinelli’s, a wonderful local deli that closed last year. The linguine has a melon cream sauce. It was as delicious as it was weird, so every taste, I was thinking this is so weird, it tastes so good.

I thought melon might be just sweet and creamy enough to pair very well with rocket – which I have a lot of thanks to the Oregon Food Bank Harvest Share. Rocket is peppery and its bold flavor takes some thought to balance.

Melon Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup of melon
  • 1/4 small yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add everything together and pulse until smooth. You may adjust ingredients to your taste, but remember it is a dressing so you want the flavor more intense than what you would eat plain. It should be tart and sweet. Honey might be a good substitute for sugar, but I don’t have any except buckwheat honey and that is too smokey a flavor for this.

Toasted Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans

Open a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse thoroughly. Drain so they are dry. You can pat them dry with a paper towel if you are in a hurry. Heat a cast iron pan on the stove a medium high heat, about 7 out of 10 on an electric stove. Add the chickpeas without oil and toast them, shaking the pan frequently so they do not burn. When they first begin to pop in the pan (just a little pop, not like popcorn) shake some salt and paprika on them and keep shaking and roasting until they are browned and slightly toasted. I would normally roast them in the oven but it’s over 90°.

Rocket Salad

Cut a very small yellow onion in half length-wise, cut off the ends and then slice thinly length-wise for small strips of onion. Then chop two stalks of celery on the diagonal for nice thin, but longish pieces. Then add about 4 cups of rocket. You can see that about half the salad volume is rocket.

Toss the chickpeas on top and stir. Add the dressing when you serve so the dressing does not make the chickpeas mushy.

This is a delicious salad. There is the bite of the onion, the earthy celery, the peppery rocket and the smoky, salty paprika of the chickpeas and blended and worked together with the sweet and tangy cantaloupe dressing.

This makes 4 servings, though you could make it in smaller batches and save the toasted chickpeas for something else.

 

Potato Salad with Green Beans

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So, I started out making a potato sad that I intended to use rocket in, to use up some of the rocket I have, but then I got around to adding the rocket and changed my mind and added green beans instead. I am glad I did because the freezer was just starting to extract the liquid from the beans and would have soon dried them out.

This is a pretty standard potato salad. I boiled 4 potatoes in salted water and hard-boiled 4 eggs. I use Martha Stewart’s method to boil eggs and it never fails me. I am not going to reinvent boiling eggs. When the potatoes were done I ran cold water on them to chill. I also chilled the eggs. I then boiled some salted water and blanched the green beans. I did not want them mushy and wanted them to stay bright.

So then I chopped up one whole yellow onion, the potatoes, the eggs and the green beans and tossed them together. I drained a can of black olives and crushed about 1/3 of the can.

In a bowl, I missed 3 TBSP mayo, 1 tsp of mustard, 3 TBSP of apple cider vinegar and a 1/2 tsp of sugar, salt and pepper. I made it to taste and added to the salad and blended.

This made 4 to 6 servings and was better the next day. It’s nice and tangy with the mustard, the olives add an earthiness that I love.