Salad-e Shirazi – Persian Cucumber, Tomato and Herb Salad

Originating in Shiraz, Iran, this traditional salad finds its way on to every Iranian table at practically every meal. Think of this as a juicier version of a Greek salad, where the herbs dominate. We love adding chunks of feta cheese and even croutons just before serving, but then it is no longer a traditional Iranian salad!

3 to 4 Persian cucumbers (about 3/4 pound)

2 to 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound)

½ C any combination of finely chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, mint and/or dill

½ red onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

Dressing

¼ C freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes), plus more as needed

½ t sumac*

1 T extra-virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional – ½ cup crumbled feta, ½ cup fresh made croutons

Dice cucumbers into 1/4-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Remove tomato cores, dice remaining tomatoes into 1/4-inch pieces and add to bowl. Add the chopped herbs and onion.

In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together 1/4 cup lime juice, sumac, olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Just before serving, dress vegetables and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and lime juice as needed. Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days. Serves 6.


Melon Carpaccio with Lime

Use a culinary mandolin to get beautiful, uniform thin slices. Or sharpen your largest chef’s knife.

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½ C sugar

4 sprigs mint plus small leaves for garnish

½ t thinly sliced fresh red chili (such as jalapeño or Fresno)

½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise

½ C fresh lime juice

½ 5-lb. melon, peeled, halved, seeded, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

½ t lime zest

 

Bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add mint sprigs and chili. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Remove syrup from heat; cover and let steep for 15 minutes for flavors to infuse. Strain syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; stir in lime juice. Syrup can be made 1 week ahead. Keep chilled. Arrange melon slices in a glass baking dish. Pour syrup over melon in baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours to allow flavors to meld. To serve, divide melon slices among plates, over-lapping them decoratively. Garnish with mint leaves and lime zest. Pour remaining syrup in dish into a small pitcher.

 


Asian Japonica Rice Salad

 

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If you haven’t experimented with red or black rice, this is the perfect recipe to do so. For your convenience we’ve included links to some of the harder-to-find ingredients, but if you are a regular at Whole Foods, you should be able to find everything in this recipe at that store. Harris Teeter carries black Japonica. Frozen shelled edamame are widely available but we linked it to Trader Joe’s because that’s the best deal. If you are going gluten-free, make sure the soy sauce you use is gluten-free. This recipe was demoed by Danielle at US Botanic Garden in October 2015. Adapted from “One Bite at a Time” by Rebecca Katz.

2 t salt
2 C black Japonica rice or Bhutanese red rice
1 cup shelled edamame (soybeans) beans, frozen is fine
1 C sliced celery
1 C peeled shredded carrot
½ C chopped scallion
1 C toasted cashew pieces
2 T cilantro, roughly chopped
½ C basil, julienned
2 t fresh squeezed lime juice
1 T toasted sesame seeds

Dressing

2 T brown rice or regular rice vinegar
3 T tamari or soy sauce
1 T minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 t cayenne
1/4 C sesame oil
3 T lime juice
1/8 t salt
½ t maple syrup

In a medium pot, bring 4 cups lightly salted water to a boil and add the rice. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook 40-45 minutes until tender. Drain rice and spread it out on a sheet pan to dry and fluff. In another pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil and add a pinch of salt and the edamame. Bring back to a boil and cook one minute. Drain and rinse under cold water; reserve. In a bowl, combine the rice, celery, carrot and scallions. Combine dressing ingredients, whisking well in a small bowl or mini food processor. Toss into rice mixture. Fold in reserved edamame, cashews and herbs. Serves 6-8.


Cranberry-Lime Shrub

shrubPopular in colonial times, a shrub is a sweetened fruit and vinegar syrup. It’s mainly used as a drink mixer, as in this recipe, but you can also use it to brighten a pan sauce for chicken or pork, to boost the flavor of a vinaigrette, or to add some zing to whipped cream for a unique dessert topping. Yields about 1 quart shrub, enough for 16 drinks.  This recipe is from the archives. We demoed it at a class at Brookside Garden in November, 2011. We trot it out every year for teetotalers and anyone looking for something fresh and thirst-quenching. Adapted from Fine Cooking.

12 oz. (3 C) cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1 C granulated sugar
3/4 C white wine or apple cider vinegar
lime zest from one lime
Seltzer or water
Vodka (optional)

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, vinegar, and lime zest with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the cranberries are completely broken down, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

Purée with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Strain through a fine sieve set over a large bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.

Per drink, combine 3 to 4 Tbs. of the chilled shrub with one cup cold seltzer or water, or to taste. Add vodka as desired.

The shrub will keep, refrigerated in a jar, for up to two months.


Chilled Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

yellowI would be the first to admit that I cannot leave well enough alone. Take this soup for example. It’s pretty darn great just as it is — a refreshing, even comforting, meld of sweet yellow peppers, a hint of smoke from the roasting, the warm note of rosemary, the sharply pleasant heat from the jalapeno, finished with a bright touch of lime. But when I make it I think about the other yellow pepper soup I’ve made — the one that’s accompanied by an orange pepper soup, which are then slipped side-by-side into a single bowl for an elegant yin and yang effect. I put the question to you — too much? Ridiculously over the top for a weeknight dinner? Or are we having FUN yet? You decide. And while you are mulling, make this lovely soup, which was adapted from Fine Cooking. It made the folks at USBG happy in August 2014. And get to taste the soup. Read More