Warm Weather Food – I’m Still Hanging On To Summer. Chickpea Spread and Black Bean and Corn Salad

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I am hanging on to the last days of summer. I refuse to share recipes for soups or anything that has to be cooked in an oven until it is officially fall and the weather is chilly. I know many of you are treasuring your last days at the beach or a boat excursion on the water before you winterize your boat. For me, it’s a sad day when the pool cover goes on and the patio furniture is put away—no more summer entertaining. But while I can, I am still grilling and making summer salads. For outdoor dining, whether it’s a backyard party, a picnic at the beach, or a day on the boat, I like to bring foods that will not spoil. Both the Chickpea spread and the Black bean and corn salad are quick and easy to make. Mix them into a salad or fold them in a wrap or pita pocket. The black bean and corn salad is a great side dish and the chickpea spread is delicious as an appetizer with pita or crostini toasts. The truth is, I don’t only make these salads in the summer. My family likes them so much I make a batch of each every couple of weeks. 

Chickpea spread

1 large (29oz.) can chickpeas

2 cloves garlic crushed

2 scallions sliced thin

1 tsp. paprika

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

5- 6 fresh basil leaves sliced in shreds

¼ cup olive oil

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. oregano

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. The texture of this is not smooth. It is mashed, but lumpy. Some of the chickpeas will get mashed and some will stay whole. Do not use a blender. I used a pastry blender. It’s an unconventional use for this tool, but it works great.

                                           

Black bean and corn salad

1 large (29oz.) can black bean

3 ears of corn or 1-11 ounce can

1 red pepper diced

2 cloves garlic crushed

The zest and juice of 2 limes

¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro or 2 tsp. dried

2 scallion sliced

2 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

If using the fresh corn, boil for three minutes, then allow to cool. Cut the corn off the cob and place in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. I suggest adding the salt, pepper and herbs slowly. Taste and add as needed. Trust your preferences. If you hate cilantro – try parsley instead. If you want more heat – add more pepper.

Hint*- The fresh corn makes a huge difference and…we are in prime corn season!

THROWBACK THURSDAY RED LENTIL SALAD

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I originally posted this recipe on my livejournal blog three years ago. This salad quickly became a family favorite. Usually, when I think of lentils I think of my mother’s lentil soup, made with the typical brown lentils. Red lentils are a little different. They are smaller and delicate. If cooked too long they will turn to mush, unlike the brown variety that needs more time to soften. As you all know by now, I love to play around with ingredients, spices and herbs. It’s a very simple recipe and I chose not to overdress the lentils. The flavor is in the spices. Feel free to listen to your taste buds and add more of what you like. If you want more of a kick – you will need more than a dash of cayenne. Just remember you can always add as you go.

Try this as a side dish or a vegetarian meal accompanied with some crusty bread, pita or naan. Or do what my daughter does – add it to a salad or a wrap.

Red Lentil Salad

1 pound bag red lentils

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1/3- cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

½ tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. paprika

¼ cup white wine vinegar

Dash of cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the red lentils and boil for about five minutes. The lentils should still be slightly firm and not mushy. Watch them carefully; they cook very quickly. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together, tossing well. That’s it! Really, really simple.

Keftethes & Tzatziki Sauce

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A few weeks ago I had written about my recent trip to the local Farmer’s Market. I came home with fresh pastas, cheese, bread and of course locally grown vegetables. As I also mentioned, I purchased Greek yogurt packed in terracotta pots. Today, it seems, every company claims to have a Greek yogurt product, but few even come close to what you would be served in Europe. But Kalypso Greek yogurt, sold at Farmer’s Markets, is the real deal. The true test was giving a pot of the plain yogurt for my dad to try. He would always say that none of the yogurts in the supermarket were like the ones he had in Greece. “Just because they say it’s Greek doesn’t make it Greek,” he would say. But when he tried the Kalypso, he said, “ This is like what I ate in Greece.”

So what is the difference between the various yogurts? A few things. Regular yogurt is looser and very watery. Greek yogurt is thicker and shouldn’t need to be drained. I suggest the Fage brand if you buy it from the supermarket. Real authentic Greek yogurt is very thick. Scoop the Kalypso out with a spoon and turn it upside down—the yogurt will stay on the spoon. Also, all natural ingredients must be used. No preservatives—no hormone and antibiotic infested milk. It does make a difference. Kalypso has taken pains to not only make the recipe authentic, but to also package their product in a manner that keeps with tradition. Each serving comes in a reusable terracotta pot. No worries about plastic leaching, or the taste of plastic tainting the freshness of the yogurt. If you don’t have a Farmer’s Market nearby, you can go on to kalypso.com to find the nearest market to purchase their product.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve gained a collection of these little clay pots. There are so many things I can think of to do with them. They are great to fill with salsa or dip and put out with chips. A mini herb garden on my windowsill in the winter would be an ideal use. Or insert a citronella votive candle inside and scatter around the patio tables. I have an idea for Thanksgiving that will be perfect for the terracotta pots—you’ll have to wait until then to find out what it is.

In the meantime…here is a recipe for Keftethes (Greek meatballs) and Tzatziki Sauce (yogurt-cucumber sauce)

Keftethes

1 pound chopped meat

1 egg

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, grated

4 slices of white bread, dampened in water (no crust)

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano, or 2 tablespoons fresh

2 tablespoons of dried mint or basil or combination of both, or 1/4 cup of fresh mint or basil

Splash of milk

Salt and pepper to taste

* Use fresh herbs whenever possible. The difference in taste is noticeable.

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Form each ball to the size of a golf ball. Roll in flour and press down gently. Fry in a combination of vegetable oil and olive oil until brown on each side. Serve with tzatziki sauce on the side. The meatballs can be served warm or cold.

Tzatziki Sauce

 2 cups Greek yogurt*

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 large cucumbers

* Opt for the fresh dill if you can.

** Prep- Peel and core the cucumbers from the seeds, and finely grate. Press through a mesh strainer to expel the water. The cucumber will make the sauce loose and runny if you skip this step.

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Chill before serving. Serve with  keftethes or souvlaki. Tzatziki also makes a refreshing dip. Prepare it a day ahead and the flavors will intensify.

*Greek yogurt is thicker than other yogurts. If you use any other yogurt, you must strain before making sauce.

*Preferably Kalypso brand Greek yogurt

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