Tag Archives: cucumbers

A Big Bowl of Yummy

When we’re busy on the farm in the summer, it’s good to have some go-to salads that can be made in advance, and eaten over several days if need be. This a riff on tabbouleh, a Lebanese salad from the Middle East, made primary with bulgur and parsley. Bulgur is made from parboiled or steamed wheat kernels/berries that are then dried, partially stripped of their outer bran layer, and coarsely ground. The result of this process is a highly nutritious grain that cooks relatively quickly. There might be as many recipes for tabbouleh as their are cooks. The ratio of fresh parsley to bulgur is one of the reasons.

Traditionally tabbouleh is made with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, parsley and mint. Since we are vegetable farmers, I like to load mine up with additional ingredients like radish, grated carrot, and chickpeas. I also like to use a little more bulgur than they might use in the Middle East, making it packed with fiber rich whole grain, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Although most recipes call for a medium-coarse, or #2 bulgur, I like to use a fine bulgur or #1 for my tabbouleh. If you enjoy a more chewy grain, use the #2 medium-coarse. Either way, 1 cup dried bulgur will yield 4 cups cooked bulgur. I buy my fine bulgur from a Middle Eastern grocery store. At any rate you can adjust proportions and ingredients to your personal preferences, however non-traditional it may be. Just don’t omit the bulgur or fresh parsley altogether. Tabbouleh, although best when fresh, will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

BRICKYARD FARMS TABBOULEH

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup bulgur, #1 or #2
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch, then quarter slices
  • 4 green onions, sliced using both white and green parts
  • 6-8 radishes, sliced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and shredded on large holes of box grater
  • 1 large bunch curly parsley, chopped
  • 6-8 large mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (quality matters here)
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. If you are using fine or #1 bulgur: Place 1 cup bulgur in large bowl. Boil 2 cups of water and pour in over the bulgur. Let rest for 10-12 minutes. Fluff with a fork. I like to place it in the refrigerator for about an hour to cool it down. You can also just let it cool in the bowl.
  2. If you are using medium-coarse #2, place 1 cup bulgur in a heavy pot and add 2 cups water, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional). Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and cover. Cook for 12 minutes. Take of heat and let stand for 10 minutes more. Fluff with a fork. Let cool to room temperature or place in refrigerator for one hour.
  3. To the cooled bulgur add your halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green onions. radishes, chickpeas, grated carrots, chopped parsley and mint.
  4. In a separate bowl or pint mason jar, mix together the lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Mix with a whisk, or shake vigorously to emulsify. Pour 1/2 of dressing over tabbouleh. Mix thoroughly. Add additional dressing just before serving.

Serves 6-8

“What is more refreshing than a salad, when your appetite seems to have deserted you?” –Alexis Soyer

Mediterranean Dreaming

After 3 inches of rain last night, it is a steamy, warm day here in Michigan.  Although the farm really needed the rain, humidity generally puts me into salad mode; and there is no better time for salads than summer. I enjoy leafy salads, I like to get outside the box and create salads that use other ingredients.  Anything Mediterranean comes to mind, so a layered salad of hummus, ground lamb, and veggies hits just the right cord.

This layered salad makes a particularly nice presentation at a gathering on a large platter. You can also make individual plates if you rather. The hummus can be made a few days ahead to save time on the day of assembly. Macerating the cherry tomatoes in red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil adds even more flavor. You can also top it with crumbled feta cheese. Garnish it with parsley, cilantro or mint. It makes a good appetizer for a crowd along with other Mediterranean sides or can be used as a main coarse. I find that I typically have leftovers after I construct the salad, which are just as good the following day. Serve with pita or naan.

MEDITERRANEAN LAYERED SALAD

FOR HUMMUS (from my first cookbook Basics with a Twist:In

  • 2 15 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained but reserving their liquid; save 1/4 cup chickpeas for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

METHOD:

  1. Place drained chickpeas in a four cup glass measuring cup and heat in your microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Heating your chickpeas allows them to break down in the food processor much easier.
  2. Feed your garlic through the tube of your food processor.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except liquid from chickpeas. This liquid will be used to thin the hummus if needed.
  4. Process for at least 3 minutes. Your hummus should be very smooth and creamy. If you feel you need to thin it slightly, add chickpea liquid 1 tablespoon at a time.
  5. Taste for salt and/or additional lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

FOR LAMB:

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout

METHOD:

  1. Brown the ground lamb in a medium sized non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic, onion, pine nuts and Ras el Hanout. Saute until onion is soft and translucent. Depending on the age of the lamb, you may need to take a few paper towels held with tongs and absorb any unwanted fat. This can sit until you are ready to assemble your salad.

FOR VEGETABLES AND GARNISH:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups sliced cucumbers, quartered
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt, such as Maldon
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs, such as parsley, cilantro or mint
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Place cherry tomatoes in a small bowl; sprinkle with red wine vinegar, olive oil and a little coarse salt. Mix and let macerate for 30 minutes. Keep tomatoes and cucumber separate.
  2. Chop herbs.

ASSEMBLY:

On large decorative platter, spoon hummus over bottom leaving a little space near the edges.  Next top with lamb leaving an edge to show the hummus. Sprinkle reserved chickpeas around the edges.

Sprinkle cucumber over lamb. With a slotted spoon drain cherry tomatoes, then sprinkle them on top of cucumbers. Garnish with herbs. Sprinkle with crumbled feta if using.

Serves 4

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“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” —Alan D. Wolfelt

Many Shades of Green

After working in the heat and humidity today, we decided it was high time to remove the storm windows in our screened-in porch.  It’s really our “family room” during the summer.  Our dining room table is temporarily retired and we open the french doors.  It is here that we have our morning coffee, our evening cocktail, eat our meals and play endless games of domino’s. Overlooking the lake, surrounded by trees and our flower gardens, it is our sanctuary at the end of a hectic farm day.

After a shower and Bloody Mary, I wanted to make something in contrast to the heavy humidity of the past several days.  Remembering I had purchased beautiful English cucumbers from Real Food at the farmer’s market on Saturday; it was time to turn them into a refreshing chilled soup.  This is super easy and just right for those night’s when your tired but want something quick and healthy.  The olive oil gives this soup a creamy texture.

Tangy Cucumber Soup:

  • 3 Persian or English cucumbers, ends trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh dill or cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (omit if you choose to drink this as a smoothie)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a blender.  Puree until smooth.  With the blender still running, gradually add the olive oil until incorporated.  Transfer to a bowl and chill for at least an hour.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional dill or cilantro.

Serves 4

Chilled soup or smoothie, you be the judge

Chilled soup or smoothie, you be the judge

 

“Live within your harvest.”  —Persian Proverb