Guest Post: Mediterranean Summer Salad With Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I love purchasing fresh local produce this time of year. Sometimes, the produce doesn’t even make it to the dinner table because I’ve eaten all of it as a snack! This happens every time I buy peas in the pod. I eat them all. Usually by myself. The cat will beg for them — my cat is strange, she loves to eat fresh green vegetables — and I’ll do my best to ignore her. Bryan usually comes home only to find a pile of empty shells… I tend to forget to save some for him as well.

I was quite excited, then, when Randi proposed the guest post I’m sharing with you today. Why? Because I love a delicious fresh salad and this one looks hearty enough to be a meal itself! And because tomorrow is Farmer’s Market day and I’m going to pick up some fresh produce to make this salad for lunch. Take it away Randi!


Author Bio: This is a guest post by Randi Leeds on behalf of Flavor Your Life. To get ideas on how to use olive oil please visit www.flavor-your-life.com.

A vibrant new campaign in support of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, “Flavor Your Life,” has launched in North America. It is jointly funded by the European Union, the Italian Department of Agriculture and Unaprol; the largest consortium of Olive growers in Italy. The goal of the campaign is to educate North American consumers and retailers on the importance of product origin and the quality level of the oil they use daily.

With all the recent controversy over the question “What IS EVOO,” this campaign aims to educate the North American consumer on the proper way to choose an extraordinary and tasty EVOO – from traceability to the origin of the product your purchasing.

There’s no better way to start summer off than with this tasty Mediterranean Salad, brought to you by the dynamic new campaign for Extra Virgin Olive Oil, “Flavor Your Life”.

Mediterranean Summer Salad With Extra Virgin Olive Oil

EVOO Mediterranean Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of Buffalo Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 4 large tomatoes sliced
  • 3 English cucumbers sliced
  • 1 tsp. capers
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Dash of salt & pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • 4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation

  1. Wash and cut all the vegetables.
  2. Place the green vegetables on a chilled plate.
  3. Add the mozzarella and cover with the sliced tomatoes.
  4. Sprinkle with capers and basil.
  5. Season with lemon juice, salt, and a pinch of pepper.
  6. Spoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil over dish.

To get ideas on how to use olive oil please visit www.flavor-your-life.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook too.

Salad with Organic Peppered Greens, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Cucumber

The steak tartare appetizer went over well. But it was definitely a bit too much for two people. So, for the next hour we chatted and hung out at the dinner table, enjoying some wine gifted to me by one of my best friends (her dad made the wine). The wine was fantastic and Bryan agreed. It’s not often we agree on wine!

Because the appetizer was so filling, the dinner itself was light, meat and a salad (we had plenty of carbs to fill us up from the baguette). Next up was a lovely salad.

Salad with Organic Peppered Greens, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Cucumber

Ingredients

  • 1/8 pound organic peppery salad greens (spicy) – approximate cost $2.00
  • 4 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 mini cucumbers, sliced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Divide the greens into two bowls.
  2. Divide the tomato and cucumber slices evenly between the two bowls.
  3. Drizzle each salad with 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $2.50 per serving).

Watermelon, Cucumber and Mint Smoothie

I’ve had a smoothie almost every day this summer. They’re really a great breakfast. Filling and nutritious, yet easy to prepare (and to take on the road if you’re in a hurry). I try to keep things interesting by combining different ingredients. I usually start with a liquid, such as water, chilled tea, almond milk, coconut milk, or rice milk. Add whatever fruit I have on hand. Greens of some sort, such as spinach, kale, or cucumbers, Sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey if the flavours are tart. Maybe a spoon of cacao, maca powder, or chia seeds to make it extra healthy.

What is maca powder, you ask? Maca is “a highly nutrient-dense whole food, as it is packed with vitamins, plant sterols, many essential minerals, amino acids and healthy fats. This is a particularly powerful and balanced food for athletes and those who are looking to combat stress or increase stamina” (Navita Naturals). I learned about Maca at the Raw Food Workshop last year. Chef Shaidle told us of the many benefits of eating maca. The first few times I included it in a smoothie, I hated the taste. So I put less in, hoping that the other flavours would overpower it. Though, I’ve found that I’ve come to enjoy it (still in moderate amounts).

Maca powder gives smoothies a strong flavour. If you dislike or don’t have maca powder, you can easily leave it out. If it’s your first time using maca powder, use about half of what this recipe calls for.

If you eat maca, how do you add maca powder to your food? I’d like to know how I can use this other than in smoothies!

Watermelon, Cucumber and Mint Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups watermelon, cut into 1 inch pieces – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1 inch pieces – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 heaping teaspoon maca powder – approximate cost $0.70
  • 1 tablespoon honey – approximate cost $0.50
  • Handful of mint leave, reserve 4 pieces for garnish – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 6 ice cubes

Method

  1. Place the watermelon, cucumber, maca, honey, mint leaves, and water in a blender.
  2. Blend until ingredients are well-combined
  3. Add ice cubes.
  4. Blend until ice cubes are crushed and mixed well into smoothie.
  5. Pour into two serving glasses.
  6. Gently rub the mint leave to release flavour.
  7. Garnish with reserved mint leaves.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $2.10 per serving).

Wednesday Link Parties

Cast Party Wednesday

White Lights on Wednesdays

Everyday Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Tomato and cucumber salad is a staple in our home. We enjoy it at least once per week. More often in the summer when fresh vegetables are cheaper. We served this salad along with the hanger steak last week.

I posted a fancier version of this salad when we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. However, I wanted to share this version as well to reinforce that healthy and hearty salads don’t necessarily have to be expensive.

Because it’s summer, we’re eating salads more often than usual. Not just because the ingredients are cheaper this time of year, but also because it’s too hot to be cooking in the kitchen for a long time! Throwing a salad into the mix (instead of cooked vegetables) means less time making the apartment unbearably warm.

One of the nice things about preparing this salad in separate bowls is that we can choose our own salad dressing. Bryan generally opts for the balsamic vinegar. Lately, I go for an apple cider vinegar (prior to that, I would use lemon juice) .

While we love this salad, but I’m looking to branch out and make a few more type of salads. Not just to try something new, but to make sure we don’t get bored of this one!

What’s your favourite summer salad? Please share links to your favourites!

Everyday Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 English cucumber – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 package of mixed tomatoes (grape cherry, etc.) – approximate cost $2.50
  • 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Slice the cucumber bite-sized pieces and divide into two bowls.
  2. Slice the tomatoes in half and divide evenly into two bowls.
  3. Pour 1 1/2 teaspoons of desired vinegar over each serving.
  4. Sprinkle each serving with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt.
  5. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $1.73 per serving).

Come share in the tomato love at the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange, hosted by Gimme Some Oven & Bake Your Day.  Also visit Recipe for Change to learn more about how to support tomato farmers.

Goog Kratiem (garlic shrimp) from Relish Cooking Studio

Last week I attended a cooking class at Relish Cooking Studio. I had purchased the class as a deal from Living Social a few months earlier and eagerly anticipated the class. The class was definitely worth the wait! I learned a lot about cooking Thai food including how to:

  • Recognize and choose ingredients
  • Remove the seeds from a hot pepper
  • Juice a lime
  • Adjust the spiciness of a dish

In fact, the class helped to ease me into the idea that I too could prepare Thai food at home. I don’t have to eat out to enjoy Thai food. The class instructor, Akeela Rabley, has generously allowed me to share all of her recipes here on this blog. Thank you Akeela and Relish Cooking Studio!

The next few recipe posts will highlight foods I learned how to make in this class. (Please forgive the pictures, I forgot my camera at home and had to rely on my cellphone camera).

Goog Kratiem (garlic shrimp)

Recipe by Akeela Rabley from Relish Cooking Studio

I could eat this as a meal as opposed to an appetizer. I’m sure it would be delicious served over a bed of rice or noodles.

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced (stems and leaves) – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar (or brown sugar) – approximate cost $0.25

Shrimp

  • 1 pound of shrimp (shelled and de-veined) – approximate cost $10.00
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 cucumber, sliced thinly – approximate cost $1.25

Method

  1. Prepare the marinade by combining the garlic, cilantro, white pepper, salt, fish sauce, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the shrimp to the marinade and set aside for 10-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat a frying pan (with vegetable oil) over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the shrimp and sautee until cooked through (the shrimp will turn pink).
  5. Remove shrimp to a serving plate and garnish with tomato and cucumber pieces.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $3.43 per serving).

The Appetizer: Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Juice

B’s not a huge fan of lettuce. He never orders it on subs or wraps and calls it a ‘garnish.’ Because we had so much other food lined up, I decided we could skip the lettuce in our salad and enjoy the crisp, fresh vegetables. This was my favourite dish in the entire meal. I prepare the salads in less than 5 minutes, there are only a few ingredients, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s delicious.

Don’t believe me? Try this salad yourself!

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Juice

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 package of grape tomatoes – approximate cost $2.50
  • 100 grams of goat cheese – approximate cost $1.50
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Slice the cucumber into quarters.
  2. Chop each of the cucumber quarters into bite-sized pieces and place into four bowls.
  3. Slice the grape tomatoes in half and divide slices evenly between the four bowls.
  4. Crumble the goat cheese and place approximately 25 grams of cheese in each bowl.
  5. Pour 1 teaspoon of lemon juice over each serving.
  6. Sprinkle each serving with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt.
  7. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.43 per serving).

Raw Seaweed Wraps with Vegetables and Herbs

As it turns out, B doesn’t seem to be very fond of the raw foods I’ve been preparing. I, on the other hand, have found it challenging and fun (and of course yummy). I enjoy raw fruits and vegetables. I eat them on their own without preparing them often. For me, raw cooking is a new-to-me way to prepare the foods I already enjoy.

I’m not giving up! But I’ve decided that, at least for now, I will challenge myself to prepare raw foods for lunch when possible and stick to more conventional dishes at dinner time. When thinking back on the Raw Food Workshop, I tried to remember all of the things Renee had mentioned we could make for a quick lunch. I was determined not to follow a specific recipe, to just think of ingredients that would go well in a wrap and assemble it. I hope this method of preparing raw food will help me to think of raw cooking as a daily way of preparing foods instead of an occasional, time intensive option.

raw wraps

I made two wraps with the same filling, but different herbs to mix up the flavour. While I enjoyed both wraps (personally, I liked the one with cilantro best), two wraps was not enough! I had packed the two wraps and a few snacks for my lunch and ended up making a quick trip to the grocery store to make it until dinner time. Pack at least four wraps as a lunch.

Raw Seaweed Wraps with Vegetables and Herbs

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets of dried seaweed – approximate cost $0.50
  • 6 cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced length-wise and then into 4 pieces (total of 8 pieces) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 package of sprouts – approximate cost $1.00
  • A few fresh herbs (I used cilantro for one wrap and oregano for the other) – approximate cost $0.50

raw wrap

Method

  1. Lay wrap on a flat surface and sprinkle with a few drops of cold water.
  2. Stack half of the filling horizontally (approximately a 1-2 inch line) across each wrap.
  3. Roll the seaweed wrap horizontally, trying to keep the filling inside the wrap.
  4. Dab a few drops of cold water along the outside edge of the seaweed wrap to help create a seal.
  5. Enjoy immediately or package and enjoy later as a healthy meal.

Makes 2 wraps (approximate cost: $1.50 per wrap).

Raw Cucumber and Tomato Soup turned into Pasta Sauce

Ever since the Raw Food Workshop, I’ve been searching for ways to incorporate raw food into my repertoire. I’ve started following a few new-to-me blogs looking for ideas and searching through their archives.

If you’re interested in learning how to prepare raw foods, check out:

Please send me your suggestions if you know any other raw food blogs that I should look into!

Raw Cucumber and Tomato Soup

Adapted from Raw Food Passion

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado – approximate cost $1.50
  • ½ English cucumber – approximate cost $0.75
  • 4 tomatoes – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 dash of sea salt (more or less to taste) – approximate cost $0.10

raw cucumber and tomato soup

Method

  1. Combine the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.34 per serving)

Unfortunately, this soup didn’t go over very well. Neither B nor I seem to be fond of cold soups. I made a Gazpacho soup last summer and our reaction to both of these soups was about the same: it seems more like a sauce or a chip dip than a meal itself. I’m sure this is very tasty if you have a taste for cold soups. However, I will not be making this again.

We both dislike wasting food, so I attempted to transform this soup into a pasta sauce. I can no longer call it raw, but at least everything will be eaten. This sauce very much tastes like the remnants of the soup, but with a few adjustments, I think we will be able to finish it off in the next few days.

Cucumber and Tomato Uncooked Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado – approximate cost $1.50
  • ½ English cucumber – approximate cost $0.75
  • 5 tomatoes – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 dash of sea salt (more or less to taste) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 cloves of garlic – approximate cost $0.25
  • ½ teaspoon of chili peppers – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 pint of assorted tomatoes (grape, cherry, yellow, etc.) – approximate cost $3.00
  • 200 grams of prosciutto slices, cut into strips – approximate cost $3.00
  • Spaghetti noodles – approximate cost $1.50

uncooked tomato and cucumber sauce

Method

  1. Combine avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, sea salt (or, the Raw Cucumber and Tomato Soup), garlic, and chili peppers and blend until smooth and move to a mixing bowl.
  2. Slice assorted small tomatoes and add to the blended mixture
  3. Cook spaghetti noodles according to package and drain.
  4. Assemble pasta – I let the noodle cool slightly before placing them in my bowl, followed by a generous helping of sauce and topping with a few slices of prosciutto.

Makes about 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.71 per serving)

Turning the soup into a pasta sauce wasn’t a perfect solution. It tasted better than the cold soup and prevented waste. If I have make just the sauce and wasn’t trying to salvage a dish, I would have left out the cucumber and avocado. I also found that the flavour was better the next day when I ate the leftovers for lunch. (Or maybe I’m imagining it?) B was not a fan.

%d bloggers like this: