tomato salad

Vegetable Salad

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Light, refreshing food. That’s what we want during the summer.

Also, easy to make. And as quick as possible.

I made this vegetable salad using leftovers from the veggies we had over a couple of meals. Added some fresh tomatoes, an avocado and some herbs. Not only did I get to use up stuff from the fridge, the dish took less than 10 minutes to make.

It’s a side dish. But you can add some tofu, cheese or hard-cooked eggs and make it into a main course (or add leftover fish, meat or poultry).

Add crusty bread and it’s a sandwich filling.

Mix it into cooked penne or ziti and it becomes pasta primavera.

Use whatever vegetables you have in proportions suggested. There’s no magic here, no actual recipe that will fail if you don’t have one of the ingredients.

Vegetable Salad

  • 3 cups cooked cut up cauliflower

  • 1 cup cooked, cut up green beans

  • 1 cup cooked cut up yellow squash

  • 3-4 cut up small tomatoes

  • 1 avocado, cut into small chunks

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or use white wine vinegar)

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the cauliflower, green beans, yellow squash, tomatoes, avocado, basil and oregano in a bowl and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour the olive oil over the vegetables and toss again. Pour 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice over the vegetables and toss again. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings

Matbucha

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Spring has sprung and for me, that means more salad.

So I got to thinking about that word salad, which I realize means so many things that I was never able to fit all of my salad recipes into a file folder simply marked “salad.” I had to sub-categorize them into files such as “grain salads,” “tomato salads,” “fruit salads” and so on.

Over the years I’ve made salads of all sorts. Some based mostly on greens and some that had no greens at all.

I’ve made beet salads, dinner salads, fish salads and quinoa salads.

I could go on. But really, there is no one way to describe “salad,” even though a dictionary might say something like “a mixture or raw and cooked vegetables served with dressing.”

No.

Because recently I prepared some Matbucha, which is in an entirely different salad category.

Matbucha is a “salade cuit” — that is, “cooked salad.” In fact the word Matbucha, is an Arabic word that means “cooked salad".”

Cooked salad may seem odd to Western thinking except for the fact that most of us actually eat lots of cooked salads, such as potato salad and egg salad too. We just don’t think of them as “cooked salads,” but that’s what they are.

Matbucha is a Moroccan dish, especially popular in the Moroccan Jewish community, which was once large and thriving in North Africa. When good numbers of Moroccan Jews migrated to Israel, they brought their love of this dish with them and it is now wildly popular in Israel too.

For good reason: Matbucha is vibrantly tasty, easy to cook and is ideal for Shabbat because, even though it’s cooked, you can serve it at room temperature. Use it as a salad course or as a side dish with dinner. I’ve always served it with hors d’oeuvre, as a topping for crackers or pita wedges (it works well with other Middle Eastern nibbles and dips such as hummus, raheb, baba ghanoush and so on).

You can make Matbucha 3-4 days ahead. That’s handy isn’t it?

Matbucha

  • 2 large red bell peppers

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped

  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 6 medium tomatoes peeled and finely chopped

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers under the broiler, about 4-6" away from the heat, and broil for 2-3 minutes, until the skin has blistered. Turn the peppers and repeat this process until the entire surface is blistered and lightly charred. Remove the peppers and place them in a paper bag. Let rest at least 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the skin and discard the stem and the seeds. Cut the peppers into pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the peppers, serrano pepper and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, paprika, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook for 30-35 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick.

 Makes 1-1/2 to 2 cups

 

Three Tomato Three Pepper Salad

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IMHO, three of the best things about summer are these:

1. fresh, local, tiny, sugary, fragrant strawberries

2. fresh, local, plump, fragrant peaches and nectarines

3. fresh, local (like my garden!), tender, fragrant tomatoes.

Yes, you can get strawberries, peaches and tomatoes all year, but they don't taste like strawberries, peaches and tomatoes.

So feast now, while the feast lasts. This fruit is perfect, as-is, without anything. Not one of them needs sugar or salt or dressing or whipped cream. On the other hand -- if you have a hankering for more, try these:

1. chocolate dipped strawberries

2. Roasted Nectarines with Oat Crumbles

3. This salad:

 

THREE TOMATO THREE PEPPER SALAD

  • 4 cups halved mixed cherry or grape tomatoes, or cut up regular tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 2 finely chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut up the tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Place the Sichuan peppercorns in an unoiled pan and cook over medium heat, shaking the pan often, for about 2 minutes, or until they are fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and crush the peppercorns on a flat surface with a rolling pan or with the bottom of a glass or mug. Sprinkle the crushed Sichuan peppercorns over the tomatoes. Add the Aleppo pepper, scallions, mint and garlic and toss the ingredients. Whisk together the olive oil, wine vinegar and mustard and pour over the tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Toss ingredients. Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 4-6 servings

 

Tomato Salad with Chick Peas, Feta and Peas

You know all those people whose gardens are loaded with so many tomatoes that they can’t possibly use them all and so give them away?  I’m not one of them. Gardening is not one of my strong points. I get tomatoes from handouts from friends and at Farmer’s Markets.  Still, whether you grow them or buy them, end-of-summer tomatoes are sensational. Sweet, juicy, tasting of earth and sun. Like a real tomato.  I used some of my friends’ tomatoes in salads over the past week. We liked this one in particular.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tomato Salad with Chick Peas, Feta and Peas   3 large tomatoes, chopped  1 cup cooked chick peas (canned is fine)  1 cup thawed, frozen peas  1 cup crumbled feta cheese  3 thick scallions, chopped  1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint  1/2 teaspoon zatar  salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  2 tablespoons olive oil  2 tablespoons white wine vinegar  Place the tomatoes, chick peas, peas, cheese, scallions, mint and zatar in a bowl. Toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and toss the ingredients again. Pour in the wine vinegar, toss and place the salad in a serving bowl. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 6 servings

You know all those people whose gardens are loaded with so many tomatoes that they can’t possibly use them all and so give them away?

I’m not one of them. Gardening is not one of my strong points. I get tomatoes from handouts from friends and at Farmer’s Markets.

Still, whether you grow them or buy them, end-of-summer tomatoes are sensational. Sweet, juicy, tasting of earth and sun. Like a real tomato.

I used some of my friends’ tomatoes in salads over the past week. We liked this one in particular.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Tomato Salad with Chick Peas, Feta and Peas

3 large tomatoes, chopped

1 cup cooked chick peas (canned is fine)

1 cup thawed, frozen peas

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

3 thick scallions, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon zatar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Place the tomatoes, chick peas, peas, cheese, scallions, mint and zatar in a bowl. Toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and toss the ingredients again. Pour in the wine vinegar, toss and place the salad in a serving bowl. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings

Tomato Salad with Spices and Herbs

I’m almost there. My first home grown tomatoes in years and years. I used to plant them, but then the deer and rabbits and other wild creatures in the neighborhood would decide to have a feast of the stuff, tomatoes, leaves, flowers and all. So I stopped planting. 
 I decided to give it another try. A small garden only: tomatoes, basil and mint. 
 This year a cute brown rabbit did get to the basil, but so far the tomatoes are intact. 
 I moved the basil to the top of my grill where the rabbit couldn’t get to it, and that’s a pain in the neck when I want to grill something for dinner, which is often during the summer. But the basil does seem to be coming back, although not yet thriving. 
 If you ever have the chance to eat a fresh-picked tomatoes, do not pass it up. The fruit is sweet, juicy, natural. 
 It makes you feel better about the earth.  
 Fresh garden tomatoes are best plain. But if you have enough, you can cut them into a summer salad:                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
 Tomato Salad with Spices and Herbs 

 3 cups halved cherry tomatoes 
 1 tablespoon chopped chives 
 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 
 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint 
 3 tablespoons olive oil 
 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
  salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  

 Cut up the tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Add the chives, basil and mint and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the olive oil and wine vinegar and toss ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients. Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving. 
 Makes 4-6 servings

I’m almost there. My first home grown tomatoes in years and years. I used to plant them, but then the deer and rabbits and other wild creatures in the neighborhood would decide to have a feast of the stuff, tomatoes, leaves, flowers and all. So I stopped planting.

I decided to give it another try. A small garden only: tomatoes, basil and mint.

This year a cute brown rabbit did get to the basil, but so far the tomatoes are intact.

I moved the basil to the top of my grill where the rabbit couldn’t get to it, and that’s a pain in the neck when I want to grill something for dinner, which is often during the summer. But the basil does seem to be coming back, although not yet thriving.

If you ever have the chance to eat a fresh-picked tomatoes, do not pass it up. The fruit is sweet, juicy, natural.

It makes you feel better about the earth. 

Fresh garden tomatoes are best plain. But if you have enough, you can cut them into a summer salad:                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Tomato Salad with Spices and Herbs

3 cups halved cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut up the tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Add the chives, basil and mint and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the olive oil and wine vinegar and toss ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients. Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 4-6 servings

Tomato Salad with Herb-infused Croutons and Goat Cheese

Why would anyone make homemade croutons when there are so many packaged varieties to buy?  
  For me it’s because the store-bought ones I’ve tried are oversalted, over garlicked, overgreased and hard as rocks.  
  And I trust my own instincts about whether my leftover bread is stale but still fresh enough to be useful rather than some commercial firm’s where they’re looking to get every penny’s worth.  
  Besides, croutons are incredibly easy to cook and they are so versatile and tasty you can feel like a genius after you make a batch and use them for some recipe or other. And also because you can use almost any kind of bread, any kind of cooking fat, any kind of seasoning, depending on which recipe you will be adding them to.  
  For example — I make basil-infused croutons for fresh tomato soup, c  hipotle seasoned croutons for pea soup  . I prefer traditional garlic and herb croutons for Caesar Salad.   
  I’ve also made buttery cheese-croutons, which are wonderful as toppers for vegetable casseroles and have even stuffed some into an omelet when I was at a loss for some other ingredient. I’ve made a variety of croutons with fresh herbs to use as a bed for stirfried vegetables.  
  There’s no end to the possibilities.  
  Croutons are supposed to be the crispy, luxurious, contrasting crunch and flavor your tongue savors as it tosses around soft lettuce leaves or buttery avocado or tangy salad dressing. The hard-as-rocks kind from the package are always too distracting.   

     
  Tomato Salad with Herb-infused Croutons and Goat Cheese   
     
    4 slices 3/4-inch thick Italian bread  
  1-1/2 tablespoons butter   
  1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil   
  1 large clove garlic, sliced  
  1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil  
  2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves  
  salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  
  1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved  
  1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into bite size pieces  
  1/2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese   
  1/4 cup chopped red onion  
  3-4 tablespoons olive oil  
  2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar  
     
     
  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Trim the crusts from the bread and cut the pieces into small cubes. Heat the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the garlic slices and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic slices turn lightly brown. Remove and discard the garlic. Add the bread cubes, basil and thyme, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat all the pieces. Place the cubes on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the cubes are crispy and golden. Set aside. Place the tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, red onion and croutons and toss ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and pour over the salad. Toss and taste, adding more olive oil or vinegar as needed. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Makes 2-4 servings

Why would anyone make homemade croutons when there are so many packaged varieties to buy?

For me it’s because the store-bought ones I’ve tried are oversalted, over garlicked, overgreased and hard as rocks.

And I trust my own instincts about whether my leftover bread is stale but still fresh enough to be useful rather than some commercial firm’s where they’re looking to get every penny’s worth.

Besides, croutons are incredibly easy to cook and they are so versatile and tasty you can feel like a genius after you make a batch and use them for some recipe or other. And also because you can use almost any kind of bread, any kind of cooking fat, any kind of seasoning, depending on which recipe you will be adding them to.

For example — I make basil-infused croutons for fresh tomato soup, chipotle seasoned croutons for pea soup. I prefer traditional garlic and herb croutons for Caesar Salad.

I’ve also made buttery cheese-croutons, which are wonderful as toppers for vegetable casseroles and have even stuffed some into an omelet when I was at a loss for some other ingredient. I’ve made a variety of croutons with fresh herbs to use as a bed for stirfried vegetables.

There’s no end to the possibilities.

Croutons are supposed to be the crispy, luxurious, contrasting crunch and flavor your tongue savors as it tosses around soft lettuce leaves or buttery avocado or tangy salad dressing. The hard-as-rocks kind from the package are always too distracting. 

 

Tomato Salad with Herb-infused Croutons and Goat Cheese

 

4 slices 3/4-inch thick Italian bread

1-1/2 tablespoons butter

1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large clove garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into bite size pieces

1/2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped red onion

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

 

 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Trim the crusts from the bread and cut the pieces into small cubes. Heat the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the garlic slices and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic slices turn lightly brown. Remove and discard the garlic. Add the bread cubes, basil and thyme, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat all the pieces. Place the cubes on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the cubes are crispy and golden. Set aside. Place the tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, red onion and croutons and toss ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and pour over the salad. Toss and taste, adding more olive oil or vinegar as needed. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Makes 2-4 servings