Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Seared Halloumi & Sourdough Croutons

This is a great dish to make with wonderful September tomatoes. I used a blend of my CSA tomatoes with grape as well as Campari tomatoes. It may possibly be my daughter’s (and even my husband’s!) dream salad- loaded with tomatoes, cucumbers, sourdough and fried cheese?!?! It was well received. ­čÖé

The recipe was inspired by a Greek horiatiki salad and is also similar to an Italian panzanella. Incorporating halloumi cheese makes it hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main course. This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin.

Yield: 6 to 8 as an appetizer or side, 4 to 6 as a main course

For the Croutons:

  • 1 pound slightly stale sourdough or country bread, thickly sliced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

For the Salad:

  • 4 to 5 cups cucumber chunks, preferably thin-skinned, such as Kirby or Persian
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved, or ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks (I used a blend of orange cherry, grape, and Campari tomatoes)
  • 8 to 12 ounces halloumi cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup excellent quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2┬áT┬áthinly sliced red onion or scallions, plus more to taste
  • 2 to 3┬áT┬ácoarsely chopped fresh mint or basil
  • 2┬áT┬áred wine vinegar, plus more as needed

To Make the Croutons:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut each slice of bread into 1-inch-wide strips. Tear each strip into 1-inch pieces, removing the crust as you go if it is very thick.
  3. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet (or use 2 sheets, if necessary to prevent crowding). Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Bake until golden brown and crunchy on the outside, 10 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet and turning the croutons halfway through so they brown evenly, and checking them every few minutes. (I baked mine for 12 minutes on convection.)
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a light sprinkling of salt, if needed. Let cool on the baking sheet.

To Make the Salad:

  1. In a colander in the sink, toss the cucumbers with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place a bag of ice cubes or an ice pack on top to chill and firm the cucumbers. Let drain while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Slice the halloumi about 1/4-inch thick, then cut into bite-size strips.
  4. Smash and peel the garlic cloves and combine with 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a measuring cup to steep.
  5. Pour off excess liquid from the bowl holding the tomatoes. Add drained cucumbers, red onion or scallions, fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons vinegar to tomatoes and toss well.
  6. Remove and discard the garlic cloves from the extra-virgin olive oil, add the oil to tomatoes and mix well. (If desired, the salad can be made up until this point and refrigerated for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain off excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl before proceeding.)
  7. When ready to serve, add about half the croutons to the salad and toss so they can absorb the liquid.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar.
  9. Cook the halloumi: Line a plate with paper towels and lightly coat a nonstick skillet with extra-virgin olive oil. Heat oil over medium-high until rippling. Working in batches, cook the halloumi strips on both sides until golden-brown and crusty, about 1 minute per side. Remove to the plate to drain.
  10. Taste and add more croutons to salad as desired. (If there are too many, the salad will be starchy; too few, and it will be wet.)
  11. At the last minute, toss in the halloumi, mix gently and serve immediately. (If desired, transfer to a clean bowl or platter for serving.)

Kofta Sandwiches with Tomatoes & Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

These sandwiches are a great weeknight dinner. Using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, lamb or pork makes them a little bit lighter as well.

After seeing sandwiches served in taco racks at NYC’s Chelsea Market, I used taco racks to assemble these messy sandwiches. Genius! ­čśë

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I used ground turkey instead of ground chicken and added lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to the sauce.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1.25 pounds ground turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 white onion, diced small
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced large (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1/2 a lemon, more to taste
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 to 4 T minced fresh dill
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 4 small naan or pitas, warmed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint or cilantro, for serving
  • sliced or chopped red onion, for serving, optional
  1. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, diced onion, chopped parsley/cilantro, cumin and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  2. Using your hands, form mixture into 8 oval patties.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Add additional lemon juice, if desired.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium to medium-high. Cook patties until browned on all sides and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes. (I cooked the meatballs until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.)
  5. Divide patties and tomatoes among warm naan or pitas. (I assembled the sandwiches in taco racks.)
  6. Top with cucumber-yogurt sauce and mint or cilantro. Top with red onion, if desired.
  7. Fold to enclose (if not using taco racks) and serve.

Sweet Summer Corn- Two Ways

I typically enjoy our amazing Long Island summer corn simply on the cob after boiling it for two minutes in salted water. No butter, no extra salt. It’s perfect. ­čÖé┬áBut, I must admit that both of these dishes brought sweet corn to another level and were absolute crowd-pleasers.

The first dish, pictured above, is Ina Garten’s Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn. It was buttery and indulgent. We ate it as a side with grilled chicken. The second dish, photo below, is Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream. I served it on a separate occasion as an appetizer with tortilla chips.

The Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn Recipe is from Ina Garten’s Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks via barefoot contessa.com. The Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. The street corn had more of a spicy kick compared to the buttery chipotle corn.

Ina Garten’s Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shallots, halved lengthwise, peeled, and thinly sliced crosswise (3 large shallots)
  • 8 cups white or yellow corn kernels (8 to 12 ears) (I used 9)
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime (about 2 T)
  • 1 T freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Standing the cob upright inside the center of a medium to large shallow bowl, cut the corn kernels off of the cobs. (This prevents the kernels from scattering all over the counter.)
  2. Heat the butter in a large (12-inch) saut├ę pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.
  3. Add the corn, chipotle powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Raise the heat to medium high and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the corn to brown lightly, until the corn is tender but still firm.
  5. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and Parmesan.
  6. Taste for seasonings and transfer to a large shallow serving bowl. Serve hot.

Martha Stewart’s Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

  • 8 ears corn, husked and silks removed
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • pinch or two cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, or more, to taste
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija or goat cheese
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the hot grill.
  2. Grill the husked corn cobs, turning occasionally, until kernels are tender and charred in spots, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, lime juice, cayenne, chili powder, and cilantro in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Cut off the tips of the grilled corn cobs and stand in a wide, shallow bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs.
  5. Combine the corn kernels with the sour cream mixture.
  6. To serve, top with the crumbled goat cheese. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping, as desired.

Note: This dish can be served warm or at room temperature

Grilled Corn & Avocado Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing

I have a few side dishes to share showcasing sweet summer corn. The romaine lettuce base and generous sliced avocado and grilled corn topping made this a must try summer salad. I love salads with loads of toppings.

My entire family loves creamy blue cheese dressing (who doesn’t?), so I knew that a creamy feta dressing loaded with fresh herbs would be the icing on the cake.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sue Li. I only used half of the prepared dressing in the finished salad.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 6 ears corn (about 3 pounds), shucked and silk removed
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 6), trimmed
  • 1 jalape├▒o
  • 3┬áT┬áolive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 medium head romaine lettuce, cut or torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high.
  2. Brush corn, scallions and jalape├▒o with the oil and season with salt and pepper. (I didn’t oil the corn.)
  3. Arrange on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until corn kernels are browned in spots and the scallions and jalape├▒o are charred all over and tender, about 10 minutes, a little longer for the corn.
  4. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and let cool slightly.
  5. When cool, remove charred jalape├▒o skin. Then remove the stem and seeds. Finely chop.
  6. In a medium bowl, using a whisk, mash the feta into a coarse paste. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest and juice and garlic, then stir in chives, parsley, and charred jalape├▒o. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. In a large bowl, toss lettuce with half the feta dressing and arrange on a platter or salad bowl.
  8. Cut corn kernels off the cob and slice scallions into bite-size pieces.
  9. Arrange avocado slices, corn and scallions on top of the lettuce. Serve with remaining dressing or add additional dressing, as desired. (I reserved 1/2 the dressing for another use.)

Zucchini Salad with Pecorino, Basil, & Almonds

This raw zucchini salad was lovely. I loved the contrasting texture from the crunchy almond topping. The dressing was also wonderfully bright and flavorful.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alexa Weibel. I used a mini food processor to quickly prepare the dressing. We ate this as a side with grilled chicken but it would also be perfect to serve as a light lunch.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 3┬áT┬áextra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small to medium shallot
  • 2┬áT┬ácapers, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons caper brine
  • zest of one┬álemon (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium zucchini or summer squash (6 to 7 ounces each), or a combination
  • 1/3 cup shaved Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1/3 cup roasted salted almonds, chopped
  1. In the bowl of a mini food processor, mince the shallot and garlic.
  2. Add the oil, capers, caper brine, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Pulse to combine.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, pulse again. Set aside. (Alternatively, the dressing can be made in a small bowl.)
  4. Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut each squash into 2-inch segments. Slice the segments lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slabs, then slice those slabs lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick batons. Add to a large bowl.
  5. Just before serving, season the zucchini with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  6. Stir in the cheese, herbs and dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Sprinkle with the almonds. Garnish with additional herbs, if desired. Serve immediately.

Arugula Salad with Grilled Chicken, Corn, Tomatoes & Blue Cheese

I have a couple more arugula summer salads to share. I eat arugula on a daily basis! ­čÖé Loaded with toppings, this salad was hearty and delicious. I didn’t grill the corn but may next time. When fresh corn is really sweet, I prefer to eat it raw.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and modified the proportions. I also dressed the salad with my favorite Mustard Vinaigrette.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • olive oil, for grates
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 to 4) or chicken cutlets
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ears corn, husks and silks removed
  • 12 oz to 1 pound arugula or wild arugula, about 3 bunches, thick stems removed
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled Stilton or Gorgonzola (I used Trader Joe’s Cave Aged Blue Cheese)
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice, for dressing
  • 2 T olive oil, for dressing
  1. Heat grill to high; clean and lightly oil hot grates.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill until opaque throughout. Let rest 5 minutes; cut into strips. (Grill corn at this point, if desired.)
  4. Cut off tip of each cob. Stand corn in a wide shallow bowl; using a sharp knife, slice downward to release kernels. Discard cobs.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice and oil; season with salt and pepper. Alternatively, prepare this Mustard Vinaigrette.
  6. Add arugula, tomato wedges, crumbled cheese, sliced chicken, and corn. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Arugula Salad with Peaches, Basil, Goat Cheese & Pine Nuts

I have a quite a few summer recipes to share. ­čÖé ┬áI loved this simple salad so much, I had to post it first. I’ve already made it a couple of times! It is composed of many of my seasonal favorites. Bright, fresh, creamy, crunchy and absolutely perfect.

This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Lidey Heuck. I used half of the dressing. I made the salad with white peach slices, but it would also be wonderful with sliced nectarines or mango. The author also suggested substituting cherries, strawberries, plums, raspberries or even cherry tomatoes. Lovely.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer or side salad

  • 1/4 cup (4 T) pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 to 4 T┬áextra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2┬áT┬áchampagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2┬átsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 2 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
  • 2 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled (about ┬Ż cup), plus more to taste
  1. In a small saut├ę pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, tossing often, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. (I used a small cast iron skillet.) Remove from the heat.
  2. In a small liquid measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. (I used 4 T olive oil and 2 T vinegar but used about half of the dressing on the salad and reserved the remaining dressing.)
  3. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Pour just enough dressing over the greens to moisten, and toss to coat.
  4. Add the peaches, basil, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts and toss to coat.
  5. Toss gently and serve immediately.

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