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. 🙂

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 T thinly sliced red onion or scallions, plus more to taste
  • 2 to 3 T coarsely chopped fresh mint or basil
  • 2 T red 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.)

Corn, Bacon & Cheddar Pie

I do have a few more desserts to share, but I am interrupting those posts to share this amazing savory pie. It was ridiculously good. Worth every calorie in every indulgent bite. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark.  I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour in the cornmeal crust (delicious) and adapted the method.

I made it with fresh sweet corn but I can imagine it would also be wonderful with frozen corn. We ate it with roasted potatoes and a giant green salad- a very satisfying meal. Fluffy and fabulous!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Crust:

  • 1/2 cup/65 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup/65 grams whole wheat pastry flour (can substitute all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup/40 grams cornmeal or polenta/grits
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup/115 grams cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cubed
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 large or 1 small red onion
  • 1 T fresh lime juice, plus more to taste (from 1/2 lime)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • pinch of granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces bacon (4 slices), diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 2 ears if fresh)
  • 2 T chopped pickled jalapeño, plus more slices for topping (I used Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Green Chilies)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup coarsely shredded sharp Cheddar (3 ounces)
  • 3 T chopped parsley

To Prepare the Crust:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, or in a large bowl, pulse or mix together flour(s), cornmeal and salt until combined.
  2. Add butter, and either pulse or use your finger to smoosh it in until butter is the size of lima beans.
  3. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse or mix just until dough comes together. There should still be large flecks of butter left in dough.
  4. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. (At this point, I placed the disk in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.)
  5. Between 2 layers of plastic wrap, or on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 12-inch circle.
  6. Transfer dough to a 9-inch deep pie plate; trim and crimp edges. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before baking. (Dough can be made up to 5 days ahead.)(I made the dough the night before.)

To Make the Filling and Finish the Pie:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove foil or paper and pie weights or beans. Bake until pale golden and dry to the touch, about 4 to 7 minutes more.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  5. While crust is chilling and baking, prepare the filling: Cut red onion in half across the equator (not root to stem), then from the center, cut out two very thin, round slices. Separate onion slices into rings and put them in a bowl with lime juice and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Set aside while you assemble the rest of the tart. (I used half-moons because I used 1/2 of a red onion.)
  6. Coarsely chop remaining onion and set aside. (I used half-moons in the filling as well.)
  7. Scatter diced bacon in a cold 12-inch skillet. (I used a cast iron skillet.) Turn heat to medium, and cook until the bacon is golden and the fat has rendered, 8 to 14 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Leave fat in the skillet.
  8. Stir chopped onion into pan with bacon fat and place over medium heat. Sauté until golden-edged and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  9. Stir in corn, 1/2 teaspoon salt and chopped pickled jalapeño. Cook until corn is tender, 2 to 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and scoop 1/2 cup corn mixture into a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)
  11. Add cream, sour cream and eggs. Blend until you get a purée.
  12. Using a spatula, scrape corn purée back in pan with whole corn kernels.
  13. Stir in 1/2 cup Cheddar, the parsley and the cooked bacon.
  14. Scrape mixture into the baked pie shell.
  15. Top filling mixture with pickled red onion slices and jalapeño slices. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Cheddar.
  16. Cover the edge of the pie crust to prevent over-browning.
  17. Bake until puffed, golden and just set, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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! 😉

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.

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 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small to medium shallot
  • 2 T capers, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons caper brine
  • zest of one lemon (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.

Farro & Arugula Salad with Herbs

I made this wonderful salad for my birthday dinner celebration at home. This salad was not only published by Melissa Clark in The New York Times, Ina Garten also shared it in her book, Cook Like a Pro. What endorsements!

The original recipe is from Charlie Bird in NYC. It is a signature dish on the menu. The New York Times article stated,

 “There are two essential steps to a stellar farro salad. The first is cooking the farro with enough salt and aromatics so that it delicious before you combine it with the rest of the ingredients. The second is to use very good olive oil in the dressing. This farro salad, from the restaurant Charlie Bird in SoHo, hits both these marks. The chef Ryan Hardy cooks the farro in apple cider seasoned with bay leaves and plenty of salt, which renders it good enough to eat on its own. But it’s even better after he adds loads of olive oil, plus pistachio nuts and Parmesan cheese to make it even richer. Then, before serving, he folds in fresh vegetables to brighten it up: juicy tomatoes, radishes, arugula and plenty of herbs. There are many farro salads of this ilk out there. This is one of the best.”

I had to make it- it sounded incredible! It was loaded with so many of my favorite ingredients.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of arugula in the salad and served it over a bed of arugula. It was for my birthday. 😉 I also incorporated my CSA cilantro and modified the proportions in the dressing. Next time, I would reduce the amount of salt in the farro, noted below.

I served it with rotisserie chicken to make it a complete meal for my crowd. Happy Birthday to me. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6 for lunch/side dish or 4 as a main course

  • 1 cup farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
  • 1 cup apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
  • 1 to 2 tsp coarse salt, more as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 70 grams Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (about 1/2 cup), divided
  • 70 grams chopped pistachio nuts (1/2 cup) (I used salt & pepper pistachios)
  • 2 cups (2 large handfuls) arugula leaves, plus more for serving, as desired
  • 1 cup parsley or basil leaves, torn or chiffonade
  • 1 cup mint or cilantro leaves
  • cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced radishes (I used my CSA French breakfast radishes)
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 1 cup water to a simmer.
  2. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 20 to 30 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add a little more water. (If using regular pearled farro, increase the water to 2 cups.)
  3. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.
  4. In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  5. Add farro, 2/3 of the shaved cheese and pistachio nuts. Mix well. (This salad base will keep for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving.)
  6. Just before serving, fold in arugula, herbs, tomatoes, radish and flaky salt to taste.
  7. Garnish with remaining shaved cheese.
  8. Serve over additional arugula, if desired.

Rocket Soup (Shorbat Jarjir)

This soup was absolutely heavenly. It was a purée of all of my favorite greens with added silkiness from a single potato. Perfection!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Yasmin Khan, author of Zaitoun. I weighed all of the greens, added fresh lemon juice, and increased the garlic. I also incorporated my homemade turkey stock but vegetable stock could be easily substituted to make a vegetarian version. The original recipe recommends the use of spicier, mature arugula. I was upset that I didn’t make a double batch. Next time! 🙂

Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 medium russet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock
  • 7 ounces arugula (I used wild baby arugula)
  • 5 1/4 ounces fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)
  • 1 ounce cilantro sprigs (about 1/2 packed cup)
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • plain whole-milk Greek yogurt, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often, just until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in turmeric, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and allspice; cook, stirring often, 2 minutes.
  4. Add potato and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook until potato is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Reserve a handful of arugula for garnish. Add spinach, cilantro, and remaining arugula to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium, and cook 10 minutes.
  6. Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée the soup.) Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece of lid to allow steam to escape. Place a clean kitchen towel over opening. Process until smooth.
  7. Incorporate the fresh lemon juice.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, and divide among 4 bowls.
  9. Top each serving with a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt, some of the reserved arugula, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Asparagus Frittata with Burrata & Herb Pesto

I used to be able to bribe my husband to eat a frittata for dinner by serving it with roasted potatoes… unfortunately, that bribe has worn thin. :/ A frittata topped with burrata was an easy sell! 🙂 This dish could be served for any meal of the day.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. The burrata brought it to the next level. Next time, I would make half of the pesto. We ate it with roasted potatoes and green salad. Nice.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 pound (1 small bunch) medium asparagus, tough bottoms removed
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves, plus a few small basil leaves for garnish
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 balls of fresh burrata, about 1/2 pound total, at room temperature
  1. Rinse asparagus, and pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal, or into julienne strips if preferred. Set aside.
  2. In blender or small food processor, purée olive oil, basil and parsley to make a thin pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Put a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or other nonstick omelet pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add butter and swirl to coat pan, then add asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring for about a minute without browning.
  4. Quickly pour in eggs and stir with a wooden spoon, as if making scrambled eggs. Tilt pan and lift mixture at the edges to allow any runny egg from the top to make its way to the bottom. After 3 or 4 minutes, the frittata should be mostly set. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Lay a lid over the skillet, and turn off the heat. Leave for a minute or so, until frittata is moist and just done. (Alternatively, place pan under a hot broiler for a minute or so.)
  6. Set whole burrata in the center of frittata. Drizzle with herb pesto. Pierce burrata with tip of a knife and spoon contents over frittata.
  7. Cut frittata into wedges and serve directly from pan, garnished with basil leaves.

I’m sharing my burrata frittata at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #227 this week, co-hosted by Lizet @Chipa by the Dozen and Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook. Enjoy!

One Year Ago: Three Cheese Crepe Manicotti

Two Years Ago: Buckwheat Crepes with Asparagus, Gruyère & Prosciutto

Three Years Ago: Asparagus with Fava Beans & Toasted Almonds and Seared Scallop Bites

Four Years Ago: Gnocchi with Bacon & Tomatoes

Five Years Ago: Vidalia Onion Tart and Spicy Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli Rabe

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