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.)

Easy Fridge Dill Pickles

This is the easiest recipe I’ve ever posted- and I’ve posted my favorite garlic bread recipe. ­čśë

Now that I’ve made them twice, I have to share the method because they were absolutely delicious. This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I listed the ingredients needed for each 24-ounce (3 cup) jar. I bought an enormous bag of Kirby cucumbers at a farm stand and just kept making pickles until they were all sliced. TONS of pickles! I filled an assortment of recycled jars, lining the top with saran wrap to keep the lid from absorbing the pickle scent.

I used fresh dill and crushed garlic cloves to flavor the brine, but sliced white onion, dill seeds or pickling spice were other suggested seasonings. Pickles may be the perfect snack.

Per 24-ounce Jar:

  • 4-5 Kirby (pickling) cucumbers (or enough to fill the jar)
  • 3 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T chopped fresh dill and/or one dill sprig
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  1. Using a mandoline, cut the cucumbers into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place them in a lidded jar, filling the jar to the top.
  2. Add salt, dill, and garlic cloves.
  3. Pour in the white vinegar. The liquid level will be much lower than the height of the cucumbers but will adjust as they wilt.
  4. Close the jar, lining the lid with saran wrap if desired, and shake to distribute the ingredients.
  5. Place the jar in the refrigerator and shake it once or twice over the next few hours.
  6. Pickles are ready to eat in 6 to 8 hours but will keep, submerged in their brine, for up to 3 weeks.

Notes:

  • 1/2 to 1 tsp dill seeds or 1 T of pickling spice can be substituted for the fresh dill.
  • Thinly sliced white onion can be substituted for the garlic cloves.
  • Seedless cucumbers can be substituted for Kirby cucumbers but the pickles may be less crunchy.

Gazpacho

The weather has been unbearably HOT. Gazpacho is the most refreshing soup to eat on a hot summer day. I feel so healthy eating it! It is so FRESH and COLD. It’s perfect as an appetizer, lunch, or light dinner.

I prefer to keep the vegetables chunky, but sometimes I will (almost) puree half of the soup in a food processor and then combine it with the chunky half. This recipe was adapted from my gold standard vegetarian cookbook, The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. I had CSA scallions and cippolini onions to add this time. I think that it tastes the best when it is made a day ahead of time.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 4 cups tomato juice (I use low-sodium Trader Joe’s Garden Patch vegetable juice)
  • 1 sweet onion, finely minced
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, minced
  • 1 medium red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, minced
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, & minced (I use an unpeeled seedless English cucumber)
  • 2 cups freshly diced tomatoes (a combination of Campari and grape tomatoes is nice)
  • 2 scallions, minced or thinly sliced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon & 1 lime
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sriracha, Cholula, or cayenne pepper, to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients. OPTIONAL: Puree all or some.
  2. Chill until very cold. (at least 2 hours, preferably overnight)

Tzatziki

My mom made this Greek dish a lot when I was growing up. Long long ago, she spent a lot of time in Greece and still absolutely loves Greek food. This dish is great and very versatile. It can be eaten as an appetizer with pita bread, for a light lunch, as a condiment, or as a side dish. It is quick, healthy, and flavorful.

At my bridal shower- also long long ago- each guest brought a recipe to contribute to a special recipe book. This authentic Tzatziki recipe was contributed by my Greek next door neighbor.

Tzatziki tastes better if made with thick yogurt. You can easily make thick yogurt by straining regular plain yogurt inside cheesecloth over a bowl. I usually use store bought Greek yogurt.

  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded (I use a seedless English cucumber)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt or strained plain yogurt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp vinegar (I use red wine vinegar or lemon juice)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • fresh dill, chopped, to taste
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced through a garlic press
  1. Peel the cucumber and cut it into very small and thin pieces, slice it into rounds on the the thinnest mandolin setting, or grate it.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
  3. Leave in refrigerator one to two hours. Serve with toasted pieces of pita bread, if desired.

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