Lemon Cucumber Greek Salad

Lemon cucumbers and one gherkin cucumber from our garden.

I was lucky enough to travel to Greece with my family when I was a teenager and since then, Greek salad (I think they just call it salad there) has been one of my favorite ways to enjoy cucumbers.  These lemon cucumbers from our garden add a lot of bright color to this crisp summer salad.  The lemon cukes are named for their appearance, inside they look and taste like the cucumbers you are used to.  Their skin is thinner than traditional cucumbers which is why you don’t see them in grocery stores, they need to be eaten or preserved with in about 48 hours of picking them!

Sliced lemon cucumber, slightly green and familiar insides.

Ingredients:

3-4 small-ish cucumbers, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 of a medium white or red onion, chopped

a handful or more Kalamata olives, pitted (canned black olives have their place, and it is not in Greek salad!)

1/2 cup chopped peppers (green, yellow or red)

1/2 cup  chopped fresh tomato or halved grape tomatoes

Feta, goat or sheep’s milk, crumbled to cover the top of your salad

Red wine vinegar

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Dried or fresh thyme, oregano and basil (Dana used the lemon basil from our garden which was perfect in this salad!)


Assemble the salad and toss just before serving.

Procedure:

Prep all of your veggies, the amounts are not super important, if you want mostly cucumbers, go for it.  Or use an even amount of each, it’s salad, not rocket science, use what you’ve got, it’ll be good!

Sprinkle equal amounts of the herbs over the top of your mixed veggies.

Add salt and pepper and as many olives as you like.

Drizzle olive oil, you won’t need much, toss to coat and then add half as much vinegar, toss again.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Crumble enough feta cheese to cover the top of your salad.

Mix and serve!

I would suggest that you be generous with your servings of this salad.  Feta cheese is naturally low in calories compared to other cheeses.   Cucumbers are a more nutrient dense form of water and the amount of olive oil needed in this recipe is relatively low.  What I am saying here is that this dish is high in nutrients, large in size and low in calories.

A colorful way to enjoy the fresh veggies of late summer.

Lately I’ve been able to eat as many green vegetables as my heart desires as they are growing freely in our garden.  I’ve been eating huge dinner plates full of collards and kale and lettuces, several times a day.  And they make me feel full.  Why?  They are highly nutritious and thus feeding the cells of my body that which they need to function optimally.  And my stomach is literally full of food.  Food that contains fiber and fat, which will take me a while to digest, thus I am full for hours.  Conclusion: eat more nutrient dense foods more often!

So may times I’ve been asked, how can I eat such a restricted diet?  No one seems to understand: I eat a diet restricted to the foods that make me feel energized, satiated, happy and healthy, most of the time.  Everything in moderation, including moderation. We shouldn’t all eat everything all the time just because it’s available and conveniently wrapped in non recyclable garbage with a far off expiration date on it.  Seriously, have you seen these?!  A healthy diet is one that contains the foods that make you feel your best and limits everything else to the occasional indulgence.  Sure, you have to do some research (aka paying attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel) and then you’ll have to eliminate some foods and add in new foods.  It’s worth the effort.  It’s pretty amazing how far you can go on a “restricted” diet!

Shaved Fennel Salad

Fennel Bulbs: crunchy, slightly sweet and packed with Vitamin C!

I wasn’t sure how I felt about fennel, apparently thin sliced is the way to go.  The combination of these few, simple ingredients is pretty amazing.  A refreshing summer salad that you can make ahead of time, and it has feta in it, what’s not to love?!

1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins

2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin (you can use a knife to carefully slice the veggies but a mandolin works best and fastest.  Also, you maybe able to use an attachment on your food processor if you have one that slices thin!)

2/3 cup   loosely chopped fresh dill

1/3 cup  fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

fine grain sea salt

4 or 5 generous handfuls arugula

Honey, if needed

1/2 cup  pine nuts, toasted (I used almonds)

1/3 cup   feta cheese, crumbled

Combine the zucchini, fennel and dill in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside and marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

Thanks for a great shot of this salad, Heidi! Image from 101 Cookbooks

When you are ready to serve the salad, put the arugula in a large bowl. Scoop all of the zucchini and fennel onto the arugula, and pour most of the lemon juice dressing on top of that. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust with more of the dressing, olive oil, lemon juice, or salt if needed. If the lemons were particularly tart, you may need to counter the pucker-factor by adding a tiny drizzle of honey into the salad at this point. Let your taste buds guide you. Serve topped with pine nuts and feta.

Serves 4 to 6.

Prep time: 10 min

Another great recipe from 101 Cookbooks, here’s her original recipe!

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