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.)

Greens with Tomatoes, Creamed Mozzarella & Wild Rice

While my kids were away at sleep away camp over the summer (for one week), my sweet husband encouraged me to make dishes that were loaded with my favorite greens, etc. (dishes that may not have thrilled my kids!) Don’t worry, we also went out to eat. 🙂

I had wanted to make this dish after reading about how the recipe creates a faux burrata- genius! This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com, contributed by Abra Berens. I substituted my beautiful CSA chard for the kale. This dish would also be delicious using true burrata, of course. 😉 I used pre-sliced fresh mozzarella but would use torn pieces from a ball of fresh mozzarella next time. It would have improved the burrata hack. Any cooked grain could be substituted for the wild rice as well.

We ate this dish as a main course, but it would also be a nice side dish or salad course.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 as a main course

  • 1 small yellow onion or 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into thin slices
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine or rosé
  • 1 cup wild rice, soaked overnight in 4 cups water (can substitute farro, quinoa, brown rice, etc.)
  • 1 bunch (4 cups) red or rainbow chard or kale, midribs stripped, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
  • 1 ball (8 oz, 1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella
  • 4 T sour cream (or yogurt or creme fraiche)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Soak the wild rice overnight in 4 cups of water. (The soaking liquid is used to cook the rice.)
  2. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Sweat the onion and garlic with the salt until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and reduce by half.
  4. Add the wild rice and the soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. In a mixing bowl, sprinkle the chard/kale with a pinch of salt. Massage until the greens are dark green, limp, and tender in mouthfeel.
  6. Tear the mozzarella into rough chunks.
  7. Combine with the sour cream, lemon zest and juice, a good pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of black pepper.
  8. When the wild rice is cooked, drain any residual liquid and let cool.
  9. Toss the tomatoes, kale, and wild rice together with a couple glugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  11. Dot with the creamed mozzarella and serve.
Note: The amount of time it takes to tenderize raw greens will vary depending on the age of the plant. The tougher the leaves, the longer it will take. Along the way, taste an individual leaf—once it is easily chewable, you’re done.

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.

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.

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! 🙂 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.

Greek Shrimp, Farro & Greens with Feta

Butter Chicken

This version of Indian butter chicken was lusciously creamy and subtly spicy. My entire house smelled like butter while it cooked- wonderful! According to the article, butter chicken was created in the early 20th century as a way to soften leftover tandoori chicken with tomatoes, butter, and cream. Genius.

I served it over brown Basmati rice along with warm naan on the side to soak up all of the sauce. We also had roasted asparagus.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Rick Martinez. I marinated the meat for 3 hours, reduced the number of cardamom pods, and used the fenugreek leaves but omitted the fenugreek seeds.

For the Marinade:

  • ½ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek leaves, optional
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

For the Sauce and Assembly:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) cultured or unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 to 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds, optional
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 serrano chiles, split lengthwise (seeded, if desired)
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek leaves, optional
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • chopped cilantro, Brown basmati rice, and naan, for serving

To Make the Marinade:

  1. Whisk yogurt, garlic, fenugreek leaves, if using, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Add chicken and toss to coat.
  3. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

For the Sauce and to Serve:

  1. Melt 4 T butter in a large wide pot over medium heat.
  2. Cook cinnamon, cardamom pods, clove, and fenugreek seeds, if using, stirring, until slightly darker and fragrant, 1–2 minutes.
  3. Add onion and chiles, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden and beginning to caramelize, 8–10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until very fragrant and ginger starts to turn golden and sticks to bottom of pot, 2–3 minutes.
  5. Add fenugreek leaves, if using, garam masala, paprika, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add tomatoes, breaking up into pieces with a spoon, and cook until brick red and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute.
  7. Using a potato masher or large spoon, smash tomatoes and continue to simmer, uncovered, until sauce is the consistency of a thick ragù, 40–50 minutes.
  8. Discard cinnamon stick (leave other whole spices).
  9. Transfer mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  10. Cut remaining 4 T butter into pieces. Add butter and cream to blender and purée until creamy; season with salt.
  11. Return sauce to pot and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, preheat broiler.
  12. Arrange chicken in a single layer on a wire rack set inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  13. Broil until chicken starts to brown in spots (it will not be cooked through), 7–8 minutes per side.
  14. When cool enough to handle, cut into ¾” pieces.
  15. Add chicken to simmering sauce, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 8–10 minutes.
  16. Top chicken and sauce with cilantro. Serve with rice and naan alongside.

Note: Butter chicken can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

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