Yep, things continue pretty much as per usual in this little corner of the universe. These are definitely the salad days of summer. Yea, verily.
Add to that the fact that the last week has seen me brutalized repeatedly by my dentist (aka The Happy Butcher -- why oh why must you torture me with a tv embedded in the ceiling and then play the Country Music Television channel constantly? Is it not enough to make my mouth bleed? Must my eyes and ears bleed as well?) and completing a large and mind- (and ass-) numbing project for work, and it's understandable that I've been rocking the old standards in the kitchen.
Neither of these dishes is highly original, I'm afraid. They're two of the staples that make up the skeleton of my culinary carapace. But, well, this is a blog, and if I didn't post something once in a while, then, well, ... Both are good recipes to use up fresh summer produce, and the marinara is excellent hot or cold and keeps well in the freezer for emergency saucing needs.
Every time I make this salad, without fail, I end up with "she's so cold" stuck in my head. Alright, if I'm being honest - I end up belting it out full-volume while hunched over my cutting board. "I'm so hot for her, I'm so hot for her, I'm so hot for her, and she's so cold ...".
what you need ...
hot-'n'-cold cucumber salad with cumin, lime, and fresh coriander
1 large cucumber, diced (unpeeled)
1 medium zucchini, diced (unpeeled)
1 large orange pepper, diced
4 large scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
a few handfuls cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 large fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 c. fresh coriander (packed), finely chopped
couple grindings black pepper
2 large cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
1 Tbsp. flax oil (optional, can omit or use olive oil if not big on flax and not needing the omegas)
3 medium limes, juiced
1 tsp. (heaping) ground roasted cumin
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. dried ground chipotle chilis or cayenne (optional, I likes my spice)
what you do ...
Combine second set of ingredients in a glass jar, cover tightly, and shake shake shake. Let stand in the fridge while you prepare the veggies.
Toss together first set of ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Pour dressing over top, mix well. Let stand at least 20 minutes before serving to allow flavours to marry. Toss again and serve with lime wedges.
* Normally, I'll throw in a cup of cooked and cooled black beans and 1/3 c. dry-roasted pepitas, but this time around I was looking for something lighter.
zucchini ribbons with sun dried tomato and fresh basil marinara
Everyone and their dog has a go-to marinara recipe. I'm no different. Here's my favourite.
sun dried tomato and fresh basil marinara
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 - 8 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow pepper, diced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1 c. (well packed) sun dried tomatoes, sliced *
28 oz. whole roma tomatoes (canned, unsalted, unpeeled)
6 oz. tomato paste
1/2 c. salt-free home-made vegetable stock (or good-quality commercial)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. dried chili flakes
1 c. (well packed) fresh basil, roughly chopped
what you do ...
In a large pot, steam-fry onions, garlic, carrot, and yellow pepper over medium-high heat until onion is fragrant and translucent (about 3-5 minutes).
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes, stock, bay leaves, oregano, chili flakes, white pepper, and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Stir well, crushing tomatoes against side of pot with the back of your mixing spoon.
Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Leave to simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally (patience is a virtue, my friends).
Once the hour's up, throw in the fresh basil, mix well, and taste for saltiness. Add the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt if you think it needs it (or more, or less), re-cover, and allow to simmer another 15 minutes, stirring once somewhere in there.
Once it's finished simmering, remove from heat and remove and discard bay leaves. Using an immersion blender or food processor, purée sauce until smooth (unless, of course, you like chunks. In which case, by all means, leave some chunkies in there). Taste and adjust salt and pepper if/as needed.
* You want to get the ones that aren't oil-packed. Preferably unsalted/unsulphured. If you can't find the unsalted ones, you'll need to blanche the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes, and then rinse-drain-rinse and squeeze.