Tuesday, June 4, 2013

of Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Yogurt Dill Dressing (and a little magic)

The weather has finally broken in DC and with it comes a very surprised me. I thought it would be winter forever. Now that the days are longer and the weather is heating up (it was 90 a few days ago?!) it's got me thinking of summery light dishes and satisfyingly delicious cool dinners. With no air in the kitchen turning the stove on any time between July and the end of August is just verboten/a terrible idea in my house.

Enough about the weather though lets get to the dish! This salad is a shameless ripoff of my roommate Sharon's many iterations of Israeli salad. She makes hers with a few added and deleted ingredients so I'm not giving away any trade secrets here. The cucumbers and tomatoes meld perfectly with the avocado and mozzarella cheese to create a harmonious and completely delicious taste experience. I would probably eat this even without dressing if given a bit of salt. Seriously the flavors are packing some punch for how simple this is. The dressing though is all me. I grew up around a ton of Greek food so every now and again I get a strange craving for dill. I have learned not to question it too much. I basically made the recipe that I use for my tzatziki and played around with measurements in order to get the consistency to be dressing like. When mixed together these two Mediterranean dishes play off each other so well I'm surprised I didn't start doing this ages ago; it's magic! So enjoy this light bright dish for the next couple months or all year round.

Today's Cast of Characters:

Quite easy ingredients wise today with tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and mozzarella as some of the stars. The dressing gets a bit more complex with garlic, yogurt, red wine vinegar (side note you can use white wine vinegar if your family has my family's allergy profile), olive oil, mint, and of course dill. Salads are one of my favorite things to prepare in the summer partially because I abhor using the stove but also because I just don't have it in me for heavier meals in the heat. Year round this salad could be used as a side dish or lunch instead.

What to Do:

I always start out with the very simple task of dicing the cucumber. I like the pieces to be bite sized but not small so a course dice will suffice. I then put the cucumbers in a bowl, toss with a bit of salt, and let it rest for 10 minutes. This helps draw some of the water out of the cucumbers and also serves to develop some of its flavor.

As the cucumbers are resting, its time to make the dressing. I use a small food processor but you can use anything that has a few blades to work with. Empty the Greek yogurt into the food processor put in the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and 2 tablespoons of dill. Blend until basically smooth.

After the cucumbers have rested for about 5 minutes grab that small handful and throw them into the processor. Blend until smooth; afterward do a quick taste and see if you would like to add more dill or salt. In this case I did add more because a) I love dill and b) I love properly salted salad dressings. Blend until most of the bits of dill are smaller. Put the dressing in the fridge to firm up a bit.

Now we get back to those pesky cucumbers...pour out the water in the bowl carefully into the sink and the cucumbers onto some paper towels. Pat dry. Add back into bowl.

Dice up the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and throw them into the bowl too. Stir it up until well blended.

Cut up the avocado; weird side note did you know you can tell if an avocado is ripe by if it feels like it does when you push the tip of your nose?; and place it into the bowl. Stir semi vigorously until the clumps have broken up but you haven't crushed it's fragile spirit.

Now here you could either dump in some of your delectable tzatziki dressing or you can allow people and yourself to add in however much they want. I prefer the second way strictly because it makes leftovers just as delicious as the original; mixed together over night the dressing and salad create a completely different but still nice taste so don't be scared to try it the first way.

Serve it up how ever you choose and enjoy!


Cucumber Tomato Salad with Yogurt Dill Dressing
For the Dressing:
1 personal container plain Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons olive oil
1.5 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
About 1/8 cup diced cucumber or a small handful
2 tablespoons mint
3 or so heaping tablespoons of dill (depending on your taste)
Salt to taste (I use about 1/4 teaspoon)

For the Salad:
5 to 6 tomatoes on the vine
1 cucumber
1 Avocado
About 1/2 a tub of cieglini mozzarella


1. Dice the cucumber into bite size pieces. Lightly salt and let them rest for 10 minutes.
2. Put the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and 2 tablespoons of dill in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add in a small handful of cucumbers after they have rested for 5 minutes. Blend until smooth. Add in  a bit of salt and the reserved heaping tablespoon of dill and blend until mixed and the dill is in smallish pieces.
3. Place the dressing in the refrigerator to firm up.
4. Carefully pour out the water from the cucumber bowl. Dump them onto a paper towel or two and pat them dry, squeezing out a bit of the moisture if you want.
5. Dice up the mozzarella and tomatoes, add to bowl of cucumbers and stir until well blended. Dice up the avocado and throw that in as well. Stir until blended but not mushy.
6. You can either serve up the salad and let everyone dress their portion individually or mix in what you think is an appropriate amount and keep the rest of the dressing to enjoy later.
7. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Mozzarella Salad Avocado / Tomato/