Today you're getting two recipes for the price of one! Why, you ask? Because two is always better than one. And because I just got back from Vegas and couldn't help myself....all that gambling and heat went straight to my head. Mostly, because I really have been cooking and need to get through my backlog of recipes. Who doesn't love two for one anyways? Especially on a Monday or a happy hour.
Let's start with the Panzanella. My girl Ina Garten is at it again - she got me hooked on yet another dish of hers. And this one just screams summer with all the fresh veggies in it. I love the mixture of textures and flavors in this salad - crunchy, tangy, a bit salty . I would never think to put bread in a salad but it works here - just make sure you add it right before you serve otherwise it will get soggy. The colors are amazing - in fact, it was almost too pretty to eat. I can't say enough good about this salad. It works as a side or as a meal on it's own - add grilled chicken or better yet, grill all the vegetables. If I'm ambitious enough, I may just do that next time.....and trust me, there will be a next time with this one.
You can find Ina's recipe here. I did tweak a couple things - instead of toasting the bread in a skillet on the stove, I baked them in the oven at 375 degrees with a little olive oil and a dash of kosher salt until slightly golden. Also, I didn't have any Champagne Vinegar on hand so I substituted with White Balsamic. It worked perfectly. Enjoy this one freshly made.
Moving on to the Cool Cucumber Salad. We got a few beautiful cucumbers in our CSA box this last time around. I'm always stumped as to what to do with them besides using them as crudites. Going back to our German roots (really I just wanted to use my new mandoline), I made this cucumber salad with thinly sliced cucumbers, white vinegar, fresh dill, onion, sugar, and a bit of water. I let it all marinate in the fridge for about three hours. The result? A perfectly cool, refreshing, not-too-overwhelming vinegar and cucumber salad. I was amazed. My husband couldn't get enough of it. I think the whole container was gone in about two days. So good!
Just a couple words on cucumbers - it really is best if you can use the organic variety. Cucumbers are one of the top twelve foods with the highest level of pesticides used in the growing process. If you are unable find organic, you may want to consider peeling the skin off. If you're not concerned, go for the whole shabang!
I also highly recommend using a mandoline to slice the cucumbers thinly, or you can use the slicer disc with your food processor. Unless you're a master at knife precision, I don't recommend going that route. I used my new mandoline (which I LOVE) on both the cucumbers and onions. So slick!
There you have it! 2 recipes for the price of 1 - all on a Monday. Now that's what I call a great happy hour.
Cool Cucumber Salad
Recipe by A Toast to Taste
Photos by A Toast to Taste
2 large cucumbers (preferably organic), thinly sliced
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
2 Tbsp sugar
dash of pepper
Place sliced cucumbers in the bottom of a 9x13 dish (glass if you have it). Top with onion, dill, vinegar, water, sugar and a bit of pepper. Stir together until well combined and sugar is completely dissolved in liquids. Cover and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours, stirring once an hour. Serve and enjoy!