Cucumber Dill Salad

Cucumbers have always been one of my favorite vegetables. My mom tells me that one of my first words was “More”. She would give me slices of cucumbers and peppers, and I would say “More!” I guess I was meant to be vegan! I’ve always loved veggies. This recipe definitely showcases cucumbers, which is probably why I like it so much.

Cucumber Dill Salad

When I used to work at a farm market, we made a cucumber salad very similar to this one. It’s a simple and fresh salad that goes perfectly with summery barbecues. If you’ve never had a similar cucumber salad, just imagine fresh pickles. The vinegar, dill, and sugar give the cucumbers a sweet and sour pickle taste while keeping the crunchiness of the fresh cucumbers. I found some pickling cucumbers at a local farmers market that looked really good, so I decided to use those, but you can use regular cucumbers as well.

Ingredients:

3 cucumbers
1/2 small white or yellow onion
3/4 cup vinegar
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp dried dill

Directions:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and dill. Whisk until well combined.
  • Thinly slice the cucumbers. You can peel them first if you prefer, but I usually leave the peels on. Thinly slice the onion. Place the onion and cucumbers in the mixing bowl. Toss to coat with the liquid.
  • Let the cucumber salad sit for at least an hour or two and preferably overnight. The cucumbers will soften up a little and the flavors will seep in more if it sits overnight.

Spring Planting – Potted Herbs and Hanging Baskets

I finished up what I think will be the last of my spring planting, but at the rate I’ve been acquiring plants I can never be sure! For Mother’s Day I potted up a little herb garden for my mom. It was so cute, I decided to make one for myself too. I don’t have a good picture of my mom’s pot of herbs, but I chose the same pot (the green one in the top picture) and similar herbs to use for mine. I had too many herbs to fit in one pot, so I filled up two.

Herbs

Herbs

It’s expensive to buy fresh herbs at the grocery store, and buying a little herb plant costs about the same as one bunch of herbs. It seemed to make sense to just plant herbs that I use often to keep on hand. There’s a flower market every year about two blocks from where we live, and they had a big selection of herbs. I ended up getting Silver Edge thyme, creeping Prostrate rosemary, dwarf sage, apple mint, dill, sweet basil, and Mini Purple basil.

Dill

I’m not convinced that the dill and Mini Purple basil are going to make it, but the rest look pretty hardy. The mini purple basil just doesn’t seem to be thriving as much as it was when I first bought it, and the dill promptly threw itself over sideways as soon as I planted it. We’ll see if it rights itself again.

Dill

The neighbor’s very friendly cat also came over for a snuggle, which he does just about every day.

Neighbor's Cat

He also rolled around in the potting soil getting himself all dirty. Sometimes I think he’s trying to move in with us because he hangs out at the back door quite often. The neighbors have dogs and I think he knows we’re an all cat household and wants in on that. He’s a real sweetheart.

Neighbor's Cat

And last but not least, I potted up some hanging baskets for the front porch. I got the hanging pots at Joann Fabrics for a good price. They were $19.99 to start, but were 50% off, and then I had an additional 20% off coupon so they were only about $8 each. Then, of course, add in the plants which were about $40 total, so it ended up being about $28 per hanging basket. Pre-potted ones in that type of basket can run a bit more than that at most garden centers, usually $30-$40 around here, so we saved a little bit by doing it ourselves. We filled the hanging baskets with Calibrachoa (Callie’s Peach), Dichondra (Silver Falls), and Amstel Begonias (Dark Britt).

Hanging Baskets

So that’s just about it for our spring planting. Are any of you planting up any herbs or flowers? What’s in your garden this year?

 

Chickpea Salad AKA Vegan Tuna Salad

This is a recipe I promised ages ago in my post about Blackbird Pizzeria in Philadelphia, but I didn’t get around to making it until now. Blackbird Pizzeria’s Chickpea Salad is really tasty, so I had to try replicating it at home.

Oftentimes, vegans refer to Chickpea Salad as Vegan Tuna Salad, or Chickpea “Tuna” Salad. It does taste surprisingly like tuna salad, so if you’re missing that, this is a great substitute. Even if you aren’t vegan, I would recommend this as another yummy alternative for lunch. If you’re ever in Philly, be sure to make a stop at Blackbird Pizzeria. It’s one of my favorite vegan restaurants and I go there pretty much every time I find myself in Philly.

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas
1/4 cup sweet relish
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 sprigs of fresh dill
1 very small yellow onion or 1/4 of a large yellow onion
3 chopped artichoke hearts
2 stalks of celery
garlic powder
black pepper
dried oregano
dried basil
salt
1 tomato
lettuce
your favorite bread

Directions:

  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place them in a mixing bowl and mash them well. There can be small chunks, it doesn’t have to be as creamy as hummus.
  • Add mayonnaise and sweet relish to the mashed chickpeas and stir well.
  • Chop the leaves of two sprigs of fresh dill. Finely chop the onion, celery, and artichoke hearts. Stir into the chickpea mixture.
  • Add garlic powder, black pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, and salt to taste and stir well.
  • Spread the Chickpea Salad on your favorite bread or a roll. Add lettuce and tomato and enjoy!

Rosemary Dill Bread

To continue on my bread baking resolution for 2012, I had to throw a loaf of bread into the breakfast recipe mix. There’s not much that’s better than homemade bread fresh out of the oven. It’s also nice to have as toast for breakfast the next morning.

I had some leftover fresh dill that I wanted to use up before it went bad, so I decided to try making an herb bread. It came out really well. This is a great way to use up herbs, especially since they always seem to come in huge bunches at the grocery store…way more than you need for most recipes. This recipe is based on one from King Arthur Flour that I modified. King Arthur is a good starting place for basic bread recipes that are well tested.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
2 cups warms water (not over 110°F) + extra if needed
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 – 6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
5 sprigs of fresh dill
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
coarse sea salt
olive oil
cornmeal

Directions:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, and warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes. Remove the stems from the dill sprigs and chop the leaves.
  • Slowly add the flour, salt, fresh dill, and rosemary to the yeast mixture. Mix until it forms a kneadable ball of dough. I had to add about 1/2 cup extra water to form the dough. My apartment is really dry from the heaters in the winter though, so it may depend on your environment.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for a few minutes until the dough is smooth.
  • Place the dough in a very lightly oiled bowl (use olive oil). Cover it with a towel and let it rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
  • Gently deflate the dough and briefly knead it. Separate it into two even balls or loaves depending on which shape you prefer. Sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet and place the loaves on the cornmeal. Slash the tops a few times diagonally. Let the loaves rise for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Put 2-3 cups of boiling water in a roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven. The boiling water helps the bread be light and crusty.
  • Drizzle just a little bit of olive oil on top of the bread. Sprinkle a little coarse sea salt and rosemary on top.
  • Place the bread on the rack above the water and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Mine ended up needing between 25-30 minutes.