I don’t think you’ll need any ideas for the delicious corn this week. And I’ve included so many cucumber salad ideas the last few weeks that today you’re just getting a wonderful cucumber and smoked salmon spread in that department. The celery is a new treat and be sure to use the leaves as well. They add a fresh, savory bite to salads, egg dishes and anything you’re using the celery in. I do use dill, parsley and oregano in the recipes below so pick up some of those if you’re out. Happy cooking!
Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Spread
Summer Squash Tian
Celery, Torpedo Onion and Carrot Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing (and a vegan alternative)
Chicken Salad with Celery and Scallions/Torpedo Onions (link)
Thai Green Curry with Eggplant and Basil
I used to be a purist about pesto and I’m not anymore. I use almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts since I never have pine nuts. I use aged, Asiago Stella (available at Pastaworks and City Market) because it’s much cheaper than Parmesan and still very good. I also use the food processor. And you can scale this up or down very easily. It keeps well in the fridge, topped off with a thin layer of good olive oil, for about a week. And you can put it on so many things—use it as a sandwich spread; stir it into deviled eggs or a frittata thin it out for a salad dressing . . . .
1 bunch basil, leaves picked (about 3 cups leaves, loosely packed)
2-3 smallish cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Generous handful of almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or pine nuts
About 2 ounces of Parmesan or aged Asiago (Asiago Stella available at Pastaworks/City Market)
1/3 cup of good-tasting extra virgin olive oil (or more)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
If you have a mortar and pestle, a strong arm and some time, by all means make the pesto by hand. I almost always now make it in a food processor and it’s very good that way too.
Put the nuts and cheese in the processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the basil, garlic and salt and process until well chopped. Then slowly add the oil. Don’t over process. Adjust for salt and oil. Then store in the fridge until ready to use.
Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Spread
-adapted from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
1 cucumber, peeled
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
Generous ½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
Freshly ground pepper
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Then cut the cucumber into thick match-sticks and set in a colander. Sprinkle with a little salt and let sit for 20 minutes. Pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels.
Put the sour cream or yogurt in a medium bowl. Add the slightly chopped capers, mustard, lemon juice, pepper, dill and gently mix. Shred the salmon into thin strips and stir it into the mixture with the cucumber. Chill briefly before serving on any kind of crisps or bread you like. Rye bread is of course wonderful.
You need a big, heavy duty skillet for this and plenty of heat. You’ll be rewarded with a very delicious side dish that may trump your main dish.
However many zucchini or summer squash you have/want to use. Wash and trim them and then cut them in to finger-like pieces, about 3-inches long.
Coat the bottom of your pan with olive oil and heat over high to medium-high heat. Add the squash in a single layer, if you can, they can be packed tightly together. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes or until you smell them or peak at the undersides and see that they’re nicely browning. Turn the pieces over and let the other side (I realize there are four sides to each of these but browning 2 of them suffices) brown as well.
Meanwhile, finely chop some oregano and basil—more or less is fine. I used about 3 tablespoons of chopped herbs for three medium squash. Mince and mash a clove or two of garlic with some coarse see salt. Mix the herbs, garlic and another splash of olive oil in a small bowl. Add some minced jalapeno or a pinch or two of red pepper flakes if you’d like, as well as some black pepper. Toss this mixture gently with the browned squash and serve, topped with finely grated Parmesan.
Summer Squash Tian
–adapted from by Julia Child via Food52
This is a brilliant dish—it really is. Julia Child would have been101last week and in honor of her I made it again. It takes a little bit of time but is well worth it and uses a little over 2 lbs of summer squash. We had this for dinner with sliced tomatoes, basil and feta. Perfect summer food.
2 to 2 1/2 pounds zucchini or other summer squash, well washed (about 4 medium to large-ish squash)
1/2 cup long grain white rice
1 cup minced onions
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, mashed or finely minced
2 tablespoons flour
About 2 1/2 cups warm liquid: zucchini juices plus whole milk, heated in a pan (watch this closely so that it doesn’t curdle)
About 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese (save 2 tablespoons for later0
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 425.
If squash are large, halve or quarter them. Grate the squash on the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl that you’ve lined with a clean, cotton dish towel. Toss the grated squash with about 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons of sea salt and let sit while you continue with the dish.
In a large (11-inch) ideally ovenproof (cast iron or All-clad) frying pan, cook the onions and rice slowly in the oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. The rice may brown a bit which is just fine. Raise heat slightly and stir several more minutes until lightly browned.
Now bring the ends of the towel together and twist and squeeze all the liquid you can out of the squash and into the bowl it’s been resting in. You will get about 1- ½ cups of salted liquid. Add milk to make 2 ¼ – 2 ½ cups liquid and warm gently in a saucepan. Don’t boil.
Now stir the grated and dried squash and garlic into the onion and rice mixture. Toss and turn for 5 to 6 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Gradually stir in the hot liquid, being sure the flour is well blended and smooth. Return over moderately high heat and bring to the simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat again, stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the cheese.
Taste very carefully for seasoning. Now if you’re skillet isn’t oven proof turn the mixture into a buttered baking dish, top with remaining cheese and drizzle the olive oil over the cheese.
Bake in preheated 425-degree F oven until tian is bubbling and top has browned nicely. The rice should absorb all the liquid. It will take between 20 – 35 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Celery, Torpedo Onion and Carrot Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
–inspired by Food52
1/2 head celery (about 6-7 stalks), peeled and thinly sliced, leaves picked and reserved
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and very thinly sliced
½ – 1 torpedo onion, very thinly sliced (depending on how much onion you like)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons Gorgonzola Dolce blue cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
Zest and juice from one big lime
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the blue cheese, sour cream or yogurt, lime juice and zest, sugar, salt and pepper until well combined. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Just before serving in a large bowl toss all the vegetables, chopped parsley and celery leaves; add the sauce and mix well to combine. Taste for seasonings and serve.
** Vegan alternative:
For a very different but very good variation on this make this dressing.
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and membranes removed, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or any herb of your choice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk orange juice, lime juice, jalapeño, 2 tablespoons dill, and zest in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup oil; season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a mason jar with a tight lid; keep in refrigerator and use as much as you need for the salad.
This is a great recipe from my dear friend (and cookbook author) Ellen Jackson. Substitute torpedo onions for the scallions in the recipe and feel free to use more celery than she calls for and toss in a bunch of the celery leaves along with some torn lettuce.
Thai Green Curry with Eggplant and Basil (and Carrots)
I’ve included a similar dish earlier in the season but am doing so again because it’s wonderful with eggplant and it’s best with lots of fresh basil. It is not quite an authentic Green Curry but a tasty, quick adaptation. You can easily add chicken or tofu to it for an even heartier dish though it’s wonderfully rich and satisfying without as well.
Serves 4 (generously)
2 carrots, well scrubbed (but no need to peel) and sliced thinly on the bias
2 eggplant, sliced into 1/3-inch half-rounds or cubed
1 – 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 heaping teaspoon (or to taste) green curry paste (Thai & True is a great local brand and Mae Ploy is also readily available brand)
4-6 Kafir Lime leaves (optional) (New Seasons, Whole Foods and most Asian markets have them and they freeze beautifully so if you happen to see some buy lots and freeze-they add an incomparable fragrance to this dish though it’s certainly good without too)
2 teaspoons soy sauce (more to taste)
2 teaspoons fish sauce (can omit to make it vegetarian/vegan) (more to taste)
1 can coconut milk (full fat preferably but light will work too)
1/3 cup basil, packed and roughly torn
Juice of half a lime (optional)
White or brown cooked Jasmine or other long grain rice
Heat wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add ½ cup of coconut milk (use the thickest, part usually at the top of the can) and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Add the curry paste, garlic, ginger and carrots and fry it all for about 3-4 minutes until the paste is fragrant. Then add the remainder of the coconut milk plus ½ can’s worth of water, soy sauce and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and add the eggplant and basil and simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning with a bit of salt or more soy sauce and/or fish sauce if needed and finish with a generous squeeze of lime juice, if using. Serve hot over rice.