Monday, July 9, 2012

Hooked on this Salad

I love summer and I love summer produce, especially the summer fruit. But when it comes to cooking in the the heat, I'm a bit hesitant. I love summer because I get lots of time off and that means lots of time to experiment in the kitchen. But these past few days have been hazy and humid and hot, weather that takes away your appetite. It's like you want to drink lemonade and eat popsicles for supper every day. Seriously.

While the weather outside today is just perfect -- lots of sunshine, a little breeze and not too much humidity, the 7 day forecast calls for heat alerts by Friday. Turning on the stove is going to be a chore, but we still need to eat, right? One cannot subsist on lemonade a frozen treats -- but add a salad in there and we're probably good to go, especially if it's a nice hearty salad, like this beautiful rice and cucumber bowl. It's nourishing and almost cleansing, and it's the kind of thing that you don't mind eating even in the extreme heat.

I've called it a cucumber and rice bowl, but really, you could put whatever you want in it. It's all about the dressing. I had a huge crush on tahini-based dressings, but in the heat, I prefer something yogurt-based. It's totally simple. Non-fat yogurt, lemon juice and bunch of herbs from your garden. This year, we've started growing dill, so I used a whole bunch of it in the dressing and it really worked well. It's zippy and lemony and cool and creamy -- the perfect way to top my bowl full of goodness. And it goes without saying that you could totally mix it up. Isa says that the essential ingredients of a bowl are "a grain, a green, and 'tein and a sauce." Once you've got that, you're all set. I'm considering switching the grain to soba noodles -- if you choose to go that way, you might want to cut your veggies in a similiar shape (like rather than dicing or chunking, cut them in match sticks or use a grater). This salad is also awesome because you can cook up a big batch of whatever grain you choose, and for the rest of the week, you'll enjoy cooking-free lunches or suppers. Just chop, toss and enjoy.

Want more bowl inspirations?

Glorious Bowl
Lemon Orzo with Spinach, Feta and Almonds
Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Balsamic Dressing
Green Quinoa
Bulgar, Millet and Chickpea Salad
Roasty Soba Bowl
Qunioa with Currents, Dill and Zucchini
Buttermilk Farro Salad
Wild Rice Salad with Yogurt Viniagrette

I'm sure these cool bowls will keep you happy all summer long!

Cucumber Rice Bowl with Herbed Yogurt Dressing

Fill your bowl with some of the following ...

rice -- red, brown, wild, go nuts!
soba noodles
or a combination

cooked and/or drained chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans etc.
tofu cut into cubes (the smoked or marinated kind is awesome)
cooked lentils -- go nuts and try some of the fancy kind

cucumber or raw zucchini chunks
blanched fresh or frozen peas
fresh sweet corn (blanched or raw!)
baby arugula or spinach
chopped lettuce
cherry or grape tomatoes

Herbed Yogurt Dressing
makes about 1/3 cup -- enough to dress 3-4 salads

1/4 cup of skim milk yogurt
juice of one large lemon
a splash of water
salt and pepper to taste
a large bunch of chopped, fresh herbs -- I used dill, oregano and thyme

Whisk all the ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Pour 1-2 tablespoons over your bowl. Toss, eat and be happy and cool.

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