Category Archives: Salads

Greek Tomato Cucumber Salad

Greek Salad 2

With tomato season in full swing here, this salad makes a frequent appearance at our dinner table. It is perfect for serving with just about any grilled meat or fish. It is also a great partner with soups, sandwiches, or quiche for a quick summer meal.

I love to use mini cucumbers in this salad, or the long seedless English cucumbers. The skins are thin and provide a great contrasting color and crunch to the salad. Regular cucumbers are often too seedy and have much tougher skins.

I usually serve the feta cheese on the side. It becomes mushy if left in the salad for too long.

Greek Salad 1

RECIPE:

Greek Tomato Cucumber Salad

Greek Salad 2

3-4 tomatoes, chopped
4-6 mini cucumbers or 1 English seedless cucumber, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, finely chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
½ tsp Greek seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Combine chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, and onion. Stir together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad. Stir in feta just before serving (or serve feta on the side).

Serve right away or refrigerate.

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Chopped Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad 2

A Caprese Salad is the perfect accompaniment to grilled summer meats: chicken, steaks, pork, even hamburgers. Made with summer fresh tomatoes and basil, fresh mozzarella, and a reduced balsamic glaze, it just screams summer and healthy eating.

Caprese Salad 1

I like to make a “chopped” version of the salad with various cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella pearls. I drizzle this with some extra-virgin olive oil and serve the balsamic reduction on the side so that the tomatoes and cheese don’t soak up too much vinegar before serving.

I love these little “mozzarella pearls”. They are perfectly bite-sized:

Image result for mozzarella pearls   Pearls

If you are short on time, you can serve this with straight balsamic vinegar, but it is so worth the little time it takes to reduce the vinegar to a stronger syrupy consistency. I usually reduce an entire bottle of vinegar and then store the left-overs  in the refrigerator. You can also infuse some delicious flavors into your reduction while you are at it, things like fresh herbs and garlic. Some people add additional honey or sweetener to the reduction, but I find balsamic vinegar to be plenty sweet without additional sweetener.

If you don’t want to do the chopped version of this salad, you can also make it in the more traditional format with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella:

Caprese Salad 3

Tomorrow we officially begin our summer break (after a final half-day of school). This salad will be a frequent side dish on our table.

Caprese Salad 2

RECIPE:

Chopped Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad 2

2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup mozzarella pearls
¼ cup fresh basil, sliced in thin strips (chiffonade)
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
about ¼ cup  Balsamic Reduction

Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil in a serving dish. Season with salt and pepper. Serve Balsamic Reduction on the side to be drizzled over salad just before eating.

Balsamic Reduction

1 (16 oz) bottle balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey, optional (I DO NOT add honey)
2 whole cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
1-2 sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano)

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until vinegar reduces by about half and thickens to a thin syrup. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

Remove garlic, bay leaf, and herbs (strain if necessary). Cool. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 1 cup glaze

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas 1

Chicken fajitas are always a kid favorite. Roasting the chicken and vegetables in a sheet pan makes for a quick and easy clean-up. Now everyone’s happy.

Great for eating traditionally in warm flour tortillas, topping a crispy corn tortilla, or on a bed of lettuce for those watching their carb intake.

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I serve these Fajitas with Instant Pot Chipotle Beans and Green Chili Cilantro Rice (recipe below).

Chipotle Black Beans 2

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

RECIPES:

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas 1

2-3 lb boneless, skinless chicken, diced
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs Italian salad dressing
1 Tbs chili powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 red/yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
1-2 jalapenos, thinly sliced or minced

Flour or corn tortillas, warmed
Shredded cheese
Guacamole
Sour cream
Tomatoes, chopped
Lettuce, chopped

In a Ziploc bag, combine chicken, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, Italian dressing, chili powder, garlic and 2 Tbs cilantro. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large sheet pan with foil; spray or brush lightly with olive oil.

Drain excess marinade from the chicken and spread into an even layer in prepared pan. Add sliced onions and peppers to the pan. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt.

Roast in oven for 10 minutes. Pour off any liquid in the pan. Set oven to broil and cook until chicken and peppers just begin to char. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs cilantro.

Serve with warm tortillas and desired condiments.

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

1 can (1 ¾ cup) chicken broth
1 can (4 oz) diced mild green chilies, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 cup Basmati rice (or other long grain variety rice)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine broth, green chilies, garlic, olive oil, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Stir in chopped cilantro.

This can also be cooked in a rice cooker: combine all ingredients except cilantro in rice cooker and cook according to directions; stir in cilantro.

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Blackened Cod with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Blackened Cod 2

Looking for something to serve with your Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw? This blackened cod is perfect. And quick and easy on a warm summer night when you don’t want to heat up your kitchen.

If you are making the coleslaw as well, there will probably be enough extra dressing from that recipe to use for drizzling onto the cooked fish. Recipe for Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw:

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

I like to serve this meal with Cotija cheese. Cotija is a firm mild cheese with a texture similar to feta, but without the saltiness. It crumbles easily with your fingers.

Blackened Cod 1

This recipe also makes great Fish Tacos.

RECIPE: 

Blackened Cod with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Blackened Cod 2

4 cod fish fillets (you could also use halibut or snapper)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Ancho chili powder
1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 Tbs oil

Creamy Cilantro Dressing (recipe below)
Cotija cheese, crumbled
1 can black beans, drained and mixed with 1 Tbs lime juice
Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

Prepare Creamy Cilantro Dressing and refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Remove fish from refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Mix dry spices in a small bowl. Pat fish fillets dry and rub spices onto both sides of fish fillets.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place fish fillets in the hot skillet and sear until cooked through (do not crowd pan; cook in 2 batches if necessary). Depending on the thickness and variety of fish, it should take about 3 minutes per side. Check for doneness with a fork: fish should flake easily, but not fall apart. Remove from pan and let fish rest for 2-3 minutes.

Drizzle fish with some of the Creamy Cilantro Dressing and top with crumbled cotija cheese. Serve fish with coleslaw, black beans, and additional cilantro dressing.

Creamy Cilantro Dressing

½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 green onions
1 fresh jalapeno
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbs diced mild green chilies (about ½ of a 4 oz can)
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
½ – 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)
½ tsp kosher salt

Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for one hour before serving

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Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

A light and creamy summer salad perfect for serving with grilled or barbecued meats. Flavored with lime juice and fresh jalapenos, the dressing on this coleslaw is tangy and slightly spicy, not sweet like a traditional coleslaw.

And if you have some dressing left over, it is great as a sauce for grilled meat, or refrigerated and used later as a salad dressing.

RECIPE:

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

3-4 cups shredded cabbage
4 green onions, sliced
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Dressing:
½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 green onions
1 fresh jalapeno
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbs diced mild green chilies (about ½ of a 4 oz can)
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
½ – 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)
½ tsp kosher salt

Prepare dressing: Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Place cabbage, green onions, and chopped cilantro in a large bowl. Add the dressing a little at a time, stirring until cabbage is coated, but not drowning in dressing.** Refrigerate coleslaw for about one hour before serving.

**Any extra dressing can be served as a sauce for grilled meat, or refrigerated and used later as a salad dressing.

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Layered Chicken Taco Salad in Baked Tortilla Bowls

Layered Taco Salad 1

Sure, you can eat taco salad on a regular plate, but it is much more fun to eat it out of an edible tortilla bowl. Tortilla bowls are also a great enforcer of portion control. Have you ever noticed that when you layer taco salad on a plate it seems to grow well beyond your original intentions by the time you add all of the toppings you want? Tortilla bowls are the perfect solution, especially for the kids in my family who usually end up with a plateful of food they can never finish.

Intimidated by the thought of shaping and deep-frying tortillas? Me too. Good thing these are simple to make, and baked instead of fried. All you need is a super-old-scratched-and-rusty muffin pan.

Tortilla Bowls

To make your baked tortilla bowls, warm tortillas slightly in the microwave (just enough to soften). Spray both sides of tortillas lightly with olive oil cooking spray (or brush very lightly with oil). Turn a muffin tin upside down. Press tortillas into the spaces between muffin cups. Make sure the bottoms of the tortilla bowls are flat so that they will not wobble when served on a plate. Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes, or until crunchy and just beginning to brown.

You can layer your regular taco salad fillings in the bowl (seasoned ground beef, cheese, lettuce, etc) or try this layered shredded chicken salad. It is similar to some of the semi-fast food Mexican restaurants where you build your own burrito/salad. There are layers of seasoned chili-cilantro rice, black beans, crock-pot cooked shredded chicken, and a cilantro ranch dressing.

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

This Green Chili Cilantro Rice is also great served alongside other Mexican dishes or grilled meats.

RECIPES:

Layered Chicken Taco Salad in Baked Tortilla Bowls

Layered Taco Salad 1

Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken
Green Chili Cilantro Rice
Tortilla Bowls
Cilantro Ranch Dressing
Black Beans – mix with 1 Tbs lime juice
Shredded Cheese
Corn
Lettuce
Chopped jalapenos or banana peppers
Salsa
Sour Cream

Place baked tortilla bowls on a plate. Layer with rice, black beans (these are really good mixed with 1 Tbs lime juice!), shredded chicken and other desired toppings. Top with cilantro ranch dressing and serve.

Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken
2 lb boneless chicken breasts or tenderloins
1 cup prepared Italian salad dressing
1/2 cup salsa
1 Tbs taco seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced

Stir together all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until chicken can easily be shredded. Shred chicken, stir in sauce from pot and serve. If the sauce is too thin (this will especially happen if you use chicken that is injected with broth), shred chicken and return to crock pot, then cook on high with the lid OFF until sauce thickens.

Green Chili Cilantro Rice
1 ¾ cup chicken broth (or water+2tsp chicken bouillon)
1 can (4 oz) diced mild green chilies, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt (omit salt if using bouillon)
1 cup Basmati rice (or other long grain variety rice)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine broth, green chilies, garlic, olive oil and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Stir in chopped cilantro. This can also be cooked in a rice cooker: combine all ingredients except cilantro in rice cooker and cook according to directions; stir in cilantro.

Tortilla Bowls
Flour tortillas
Olive oil (or olive oil cooking spray)
Muffin tin

Warm tortillas slightly in the microwave (10-15 seconds; just enough to soften). Spray both sides of tortillas lightly with olive oil cooking spray (or brush very lightly with oil). Turn a muffin tin upside down. Press tortillas into the spaces between muffin cups. Make sure the bottoms of the tortilla bowls are flat so that they will not wobble when served on a plate. Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes, or until crunchy and just beginning to brown.

Cilantro Ranch Dressing
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup buttermilk or regular milk
2 tomatillos** or 4 Tbs green salsa
½ bunch of cilantro (about 1 cup chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 lime, juiced
1-2 jalapenos (with or without the seeds; with seeds=spicier)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until well mixed. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving for optimal flavor.

**Optional: Roast tomatillos for 20 mins at 400°F before adding them to the blender. If you are using a spicy green salsa instead of the tomatillos, go easy on the jalapenos.

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Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

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This is a basic chicken salad recipe with a few extras that add a nice zing. Dried cranberries provide just the right amount of sweetness. Toasted pecans, which I always love paired with cranberries, add the perfect crunch.

This is a very adaptable recipe. I usually have shredded chicken in the freezer, so I often use that. But leftover roast chicken makes a really great salad. And you can’t beat the price and ease of pre-cooked roasted chickens these days!

You can use halved grapes instead of cranberries, but if you haven’t tried chicken salad with cranberries, it really is amazing. I have also made this with walnuts or slivered almonds. Be sure to toast the nuts first. This keeps the nuts from being bitter and helps them retain their crunch when mixed with the dressing.

Crumbled bacon is listed as an optional ingredient in the recipe below, but around here it is mandatory. My family always wants crumbled bacon sprinkled on the top of their sandwiches, but “Did you make bacon?” is a pretty standard question around here, regardless of what the meal is.

RECIPE:

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Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

4 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken (about 2 lb)
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1/2  cup dried cranberries  (or use 1 cup halved grapes)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or use walnuts or slivered almonds), toasted
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
3 Tbs white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar or lemon juice)
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp dried dill (or tarragon)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6-8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, optional

In a large bowl, mix cooked chicken, celery, green onions, cranberries or grapes, and toasted nuts.

In a small bowl mix dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over chicken until salad is desired consistency. There may be a little extra, depending on how moist you like your chicken salad.

Garnish with cooked and crumbled bacon, if desired. Do not mix the cooked bacon into the salad. It becomes too soft and mushy. Sprinkle over individual sandwiches just before serving.

 

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Grilled Greek Chicken

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The weather here has turned from dreary, cold and rainy to beautiful, sunny and warm. So I am putting away the soup recipes for a couple of weeks, and firing up the grill. This chicken is marinated in a dressing made from lemon juice, olive oil and Greek spices (including fresh oregano-which is still hanging on in my garden!). The tomato cucumber salad is a nice accompaniment to the grilled chicken, providing a tangy balance to the chicken.

When I prepare chicken or other meat to grill, I always make double and freeze half in a separate Ziploc bag for a quick meal another day. You can either cook all of it and freeze the extra cooked chicken (either whole or diced) to add to future recipes, or freeze the extra raw chicken in the marinade, and then thaw and grill it another day.

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After making the marinade, I put a small amount (about 1/4 cup) in a separate Ziploc bag and marinated some fresh asparagus, and then grilled it alongside the chicken. I put the asparagus on the grill at the same time as I turned the chicken over, and they were done at about the same time. Zucchini/summer squash would be another great vege to marinate and grill.

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We ate the grilled chicken and asparagus with this Greek tomato and cucumber salad topped with feta cheese. Most of my garden is done for the year, but I do still have some green tomatoes slowly ripening on my kitchen counter. A couple of nice red ones made for a great fresh end-of-summer salad. You can find the recipe for the salad HERE.

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RECIPE:

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Grilled Greek Chicken
———–(adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Marinade:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup  lemon juice
1 tsp fresh lemon zest**
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
1 tsp Greek seasoning (or additional oregano)
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp black pepper**

Place chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over chicken. Marinate in refrigerator 6-8 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30-45 minutes before cooking.

Preheat grill to medium-hot and grill chicken 15-18 minutes, or until well browned and firm but not hard to the touch. Actual cooking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken, the heat of your grill and the temperature outside, so don’t overcook.

**or omit lemon zest and black pepper and substitute 1 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning

FOR GRILLED GREEK ASPARAGUS (OR OTHER VEGETABLE):

1 lb fresh asparagus (or zucchini/summer squash or other vege of choice)
1/4 cup marinade from above recipe

Place asparagus or sliced vegetable into a Ziploc bag. Add marinade (be sure to place marinade in vegetable bag before adding it to the chicken bag). Let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (longer is fine too). Grill for 5-6 minutes, or until crisp-tender.

 

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Baked Chicken Taquitos with Cilantro Ranch Dressing

041811 073-1Finger foods with dip are always popular around here. These chicken taquitos can be served with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or our favorite is this creamy Cilantro Ranch Dressing. It is hard to say whether it is the chicken taquitos or the dip that is most popular. We use this dressing for all kinds of things: on taco salads or tostadas, for dipping quesadillas, as a regular salad dressing, over grilled chicken. Some little people around here have even been known to eat a vegetable or two if I serve this dip along side. It is also great as a dip for raw vegetables. The recipe below makes a dressing that is pourable, like a creamy salad dressing. If you want a thicker dip, substitute sour cream for half of the mayo, and use a little less buttermilk.

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I prefer to use flour tortillas for these, but you can also use corn tortillas. If you are using corn tortillas, place 2-3 tortillas between damp paper towels and microwave for 20-30 seconds to soften them before filling with chicken mixture. Corn tortillas tend to crack easily, so only work with a few at a time. Flour tortillas can be rolled easily at room temperature. Try to use the small fajita-sized tortillas; it is easier to get a tighter roll.

Brush the filled and tightly rolled tortillas with a small amount of olive or vegetable oil and then sprinkle lightly with a coarse salt (like kosher salt). Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve with your favorite dip.

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These make a great main dish or appetizer. Cut in half on an angle for a nice appetizer-sized portion.

RECIPES:

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Baked Chicken Taquitos
—————-(adapted from OurBestBites)

4 oz (1/2 pkg) cream cheese
1/4 C green salsa
1 lime, juiced (about 2 Tbs)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 green onions, sliced
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups grated Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese

12-18 small flour or corn tortillas
kosher salt
olive oil or vegetable oil

sour cream, salsa, guacamole or Cilantro Ranch Dressing (for dipping)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray (or use non-stick foil).

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, until soft. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion and garlic powders. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well. (You can prepare this mixture ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to cook.)

If you are using corn tortillas: Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave between damp paper towels for about 20-30 seconds until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. Flour tortillas can be worked with at room temperature.

Place about 3 Tbs of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Roll it up as tightly as you can. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other.

Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the uncooked taquitos lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends just begin to brown.

Serve whole, or cut taquitos in half on an angle (this is a nicer size for appetizers).

Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or Cilantro Ranch Dressing for dipping.

Makes about 12-18 taquitos (using small flour tortillas); amount will vary depending on the size of the tortillas

Cilantro Ranch Dressing

1 package ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup kefir or buttermilk (or regular milk)
2 tomatillos** or 4 Tbs green salsa
½ bunch of cilantro (about 1 cup chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 lime, juiced
1-2 jalapenos (with or without the seeds; with seeds=spicier)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until well mixed. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving for optimal flavor.

**Optional: Roast tomatillos for 20 mins at 400°F before adding them to the blender. If you are using a spicy green salsa instead of the tomatillos, go easy on the jalapenos.

FOR A THICKER DIP: Use 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup sour cream, and reduce the kefir/buttermilk to 1/4 cup.

 

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End of Summer Produce: Greek Tomato Salad

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We are still getting a few ripe tomatoes off of our garden tomato plants, but with nights getting cooler and days getting shorter, most of our tomatoes still look like this:

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So here is one last summer tomato salad. When we start getting frost warnings, which could be any time now, I will bring in all of my green tomatoes and make some Green Tomato Salsa.

RECIPE:

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Greek Tomato Salad

3-4 tomatoes, chopped
3 small pickling cucumbers or 1 English seedless cucumber,
——– chopped (peeled if skin is tough)
½ red pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, finely chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
½ tsp Greek seasoning, optional
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper and onion. Stir together remaining ingredients, except feta. Pour over salad. Serve right away, or refrigerate. Stir in feta just before serving (or serve on the side to be sprinkled on).

 

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