Close Call

July 22, 2008 at 3:04 pm 15 comments

Lemon Cucumber

Heat waves on the weekend always push me to hunker down in the house with the air conditioning cranked up (or is that down? ) to 73 chilly degrees.  Pure bliss!  But hiding out from the heat has its potential drawbacks too.  For instance, Sunday evening rolled around and I started thinking about what to make for dinner.   Poking my nose into the fridge, I saw that I had a lot of stuff, but nothing in large quantities, save for a bag of lemon cucumbers picked out of the garden on Friday.  

Mid-Summer Salad

As much as I love cucumbers, they’re not really a meal.  I started piling the mishmash of produce on the counter in an attempt to figure out a plan of action, one that would avoid stepping out the front door to go to the store.  When you sweat on the way down the deck stairs to get into the car, you know it’s too hot for a grocery run.

onion and nasturntiums

I pulled out a couple of plums left from a trip to Headhouse two weeks ago.  Next to them, I put down an onion that I literally picked up (off the ground) from a farm I visited in New Jersey last week.   Then came the bag of nasturtiums, starting to wilt just a bit.  The cucumbers, well, I’ve mentioned those already.  I rediscovered a little ziplock of grape tomatoes our neighbor so generously bestowed – so sweet and juicy.  And finally, there were a few leaves of Swiss chard I’d brought in from the container on the deck.  

cherry tomatoes

Moving over to the pantry, I rummaged around and found a bag of mixed grains and decided that tossing everything together in a chilled salad would surely satisfy the “dinner” criteria.   Whew – saved once more from having to open the door to go out.  But wait!  What about a dressing?  All I had on hand was some strawberry (good stuff, but didn’t seem to fit this salad) and half a bottle of French, which I don’t like.  

mixed grains 
Dressing ingredients Dinner is served 

Sweet salvation, there was a huge bag of fresh basil I’d forgotten in the crisper drawer!  I’d been wanting to make basil oil for awhile.  A dressing using basil oil was just what I needed to change desire into reality.   A little honey, some orange champagne vinegar and a bit of seasoning were all it took to finish off this super simple and fast dish.   Of course, if you find yourself faced with a similar situation, you could throw in any combination of produce odds and ends you might have on hand.

Problem solved.  Crisis averted.  Dinner served!


Mid-Summer Salad with Basil Dressing 
A Straight from the Farm original


1 C. cooked grains (couscous, quinoa, orzo, or a combination)
1 C. cooked lentils
Cherry tomatoes
Swiss chard
Salt & Pepper

Basil Dressing

¼ C. orange champagne vinegar
1 T. honey
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
½ C. basil oil*

To make the salad, chop up all vegetables and the plums into small pieces.  Blanch the Swiss chard for one minute in boiling water and then dunk is ice water.  Squeeze out the water.  Combine all salad ingredients in a large dish and toss.  Season with salt and pepper. 

To make the dressing, combine vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a jar.  Shake to combine.  Add the oil and shake again until emulsified. 

Drizzle 3-4 tablespoons of dressing over the salad.  Toss and taste.  Add more dressing, salt and pepper if desired. 

*To make basil dressing, combine 4 cups of packed fresh basil leaves with 2 cups extra virgin olive in the blender.  Process until relatively smooth.  Microwave on high for one minute. Pour through a fine mesh strainer, using a spoon to push more oil through.  Makes quite a bit so store the leftovers in a sealed bottle in the fridge and use on pasta dishes and more dressings.

(serves 4)

Mid Summer Salad with Basil Dressing


Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes, Salads. Tags: , , , .

Tour Heats Up Ms. Fancy Pants

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mary  |  July 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    well this looks yummy! I’ve bookmarked it!

  • 2. Mary  |  July 22, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Oh yeah, and there’s an award for you on my blog.

  • 3. eggsonsunday  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:17 am

    This looks like pure summer! I was eyeing those lemon cucumbers in a seed catalog earlier this year…do you like them? Their shape and color is quite pretty. And I must get me some of that Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend…cold grain salads are one of my favorites! –Amy

  • 4. Jennie  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Amy – I like the lemon cucumbers a lot, mainly for their size. They don’t taste any different than regular cucumbers, but they never get any bigger than a tennis ball. I find this hugely beneficial in two ways: 1) when I’m away from my garden for a few days, i don’t come back to monster cukes! and 2) I use an entire cucumber easily in a salad (with regular cucubmers, I tend to only use half and then have to wrap up the other half and it always goes to waste. So, yes, I’d recommend them. 🙂

  • 5. Esi  |  July 24, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Yum! Can’t wait to try this. I like the sound of the combination of flavors.

  • 6. Jennie  |  July 24, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Thanks, Mary, for the award! I’m so honored! 🙂

  • 7. Olga  |  July 24, 2008 at 11:23 am

    This is exactly how I cook on most nights: see what’s in the fridge and then make things up. It’s always a treat when the creation turns out well. Great pictures!

  • 8. Madeline  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Crisis averted indeed! That looks delicious and so refreshing. Stay cool!

  • 9. Nate  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I love musgovian cooking!

  • 10. White on Rice  |  July 25, 2008 at 12:56 am

    I just picked the last of my lemon cucumbers today, but they’ve been sitting on the vines for a while and the skin is rather tough. But when they’re tender, they are very crispy and refreshing!

    You’re right, cucumbers are too light to be a meal. But when they’re added to beautiful salads like yours, they’re a great addition. Thank you for the garden inspired recipe, I just love reading about foods that bloggers grow themselves!

  • 11. Kiki  |  July 25, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I thought I had heard of every kind of produce but lemon cucumbers are new to me! How cute!

  • 12. pitchaya's food  |  August 5, 2008 at 11:31 am

    That looks Great!

  • 13. maribeth  |  August 7, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    I love my lemon cukes as well, but sometimes the skin gets tough.
    Even better yet are miniature white cucumbers! Eat these sweet cukes right off the vine, yum!
    This dish looks so good I think it will be dinner tomorrow! Thanks!

  • 14. Jennie  |  August 9, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Maribeth – I’ve never had a mini white cucumber. I’ll have to hunt up some seeds for those and try them next season. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  • 15. quaffinna  |  February 14, 2009 at 12:56 am

    cialis deferral


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