Thursday, June 29, 2017

Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Ugh, the heat and humidity continues. That's an Iowa summer for you. I am not a fan of this miserable weather at all, but vegetable gardens, and farmers, love it. The farmers markets are starting to grow bigger by the week as some of the early summer vegetables and fruits are coming into season. I still have not been to our big downtown farmers market but I hope to soon. Instead I trudged off to the grocery store, the air conditioned grocery store, and stocked up on delicious things to cook.

The Chef is off working today, and that means I have the house, and kitchen, all to myself. It's time for music. My music, whatever I want. Of course, metal, anything metal- death metal, speed metal, hair metal, is my first love. Megadeth rules my heart with Avenged Sevenfold a close second. Black Label Society and Metallica inspire many a singalong in the car when they are played on satellite radio. I'll even perk up and get excited when Ratt, Slaughter, Motley, Scorpions and a handful of other 80s greats come up. However, when The Chef is away that's when I break out the other two loves in my music heart- Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse. Don't laugh. Both of these women have left a permanent mark on music and the world, Gaga with her diverse musical ability and always changing style, and Amy Winehouse with her soulful sultry voice and sad story. 

Today I was feeling a little meh so Amy filled that need for me. I just put her on and let it play while I did my thing- put all the groceries away, prepped vegetables for Persian salad and later made a quick dinner. Amy's haunting voice tells a story of deep rooted pain and I love her so much it's as if I actually knew her. Every song tells a story, whether it's of heartbreak or heartfelt love. She is definitely an unusual addition to my metal-heavy music collection but sometimes I just need her, I just need to hear her voice. I miss her terribly and wonder what might have been had she not been taken from us so young. 

But enough of that sad stuff. Today is also all about the fresh vegetables. Like I said, it's HOT and when it's hot, I just don't want to do a lot of cooking, and salad becomes our go-to dinner choice.  I came across this recipe while looking for healthier options for lunches and so on. This salad is quite an enigma. At first glance, I thought jeez, this is not going to have that much flavor. There are no herbs, no spices. I couldn't have been more wrong! The unusual addition of preserved lemon is the secret. As I sat there munching on my little bowl of salad I kept thinking the lemon is oddly umami and savory and so satisfying. I did not miss the herbs at all. You'll also notice there is no added salt- you do NOT need it. The lemon is preserved in salt, so it adds all the saltiness you need. I minced it up super tiny and much of it broken down in the simple dressing. If there ever was a recipe that was vastly improved by the use of preserved lemon, it must be this one. You get loads of flavor for almost no calories at all. 

Preserved lemon can be found in many larger supermarkets or gourmet stores, but if you plan ahead, you can make it yourself easily. It stores in the fridge for a long time. Click HERE for my recipe for preserved lemons.

When using preserved lemons, you scrape off and discard the
soft inside pulp and use just the peel. The amount of flavor
packed in that lemon peel is ridiculous!! You have to try it.
This recipe also features Sinful Food Garlic Olive Oil. I love fresh garlic, but in a salad, raw garlic is just not your friend. This olive oil is exactly what I needed to add garlic flavor without the harshness of raw garlic. You can get your Sinful Food oils by clicking HERE.

Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad
adapted from Eating Well Magazine

3 cups diced unpeeled cucumber
1 1/2 cups assorted cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/4 cup diced onion
2 teaspoons minced preserved lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons  Sinful Food garlic olive oil
ground black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature up to two hours to all flavors to develop. Refrigerate after serving.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a "sponsored post." As a Brand Ambassador, the company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift or something of value. Regardless,  I only recommend products or services I believe are of good quality and safe. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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