Summer Cucumber Salad

Julienned Cucumbers, carrots in a yogurt sauce

Summertime Cucumber Salad

I’m reposting this as I think summer calls for cool, tangy salads, and this is one of my favorites.

My German grandmother was a terrific cook. One of her specialties in summer was a refreshing cold salad made of sliced cucumbers in a creamy dressing of red wine vinegar and sour cream, topped with fresh dill or chives. My updated version juliennes the cucumbers, adds carrots and a yogurt-based dressing instead of sour cream. It’s easy to make, very tasty and refreshing as an accompaniment to a summer meal such as grilled chicken or burgers. I like it by itself for a light lunch as well. It also keeps in the refrigerator for at least a few days and gets even more flavor.

It’s a funny thing- somehow marinating the cukes in this dressing makes them more digestible- as I find raw cucumbers sometimes upset my stomach. This salad never has. You can do the cucumber/salt drainage* technique in advance if you like but I confess I rarely have- as I am too impatient!

INGREDIENTS (serves 2-3)

  • 2-3 cucumbers ( medium size- if very large one might be enough)
  • 1/2 medium carrot; julienned or chopped fine
  • 1/2-1 cup plain yogurt (I use whole milk Greek type), or a 1/2 and 1/2 mix sour cream (I like the “light” reduced fat sour cream–I can’t taste the difference) and yogurt mix
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (it sounds like a lot but the cukes need this amount)
  • 1/2 tsp. Xylitol (see my previous blog posts for more details about this natural no-sugar sweetener)
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion (optional)
  • salt free seasoning ( or 1 tsp salt if you like)
  • fresh herbs- chives, dill or thyme
  • Paprika or smoked Paprika

TO DO

  1. Make the sauce first so the flavors can meld. Mix the yogurt (and sour cream if you’re using it), red wine vinegar, xylitol and seasonings (not the herbs)– I use a wisk. Taste to make sure it has enough vinegar- should be tangy.
  2. Peel and slice thinly or julienne the cukes- I use a Mandolin with the julienne blade.
  3. Wash carrot, peel or brush well. Juienne or cut into small cubes and combine with the cucumber; add green onion (optional)
  4. Add dressing and mix well.
  5. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour before serving.
  6. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs.
  7. Sprinkle with Paprika (or smoked Paprika) to add a bit of color

* To drain and remove excess moisture from peeled, sliced cucumbers in advance of making the salad; put them in a colander with a larger bowl underneath. Sprinkle 1 tsp. salt or more depending on amount of cukes, (sprinkle lightly) and let sit for approximately an hour. You can then blot with paper towels. It does help to keep them crisper and less watery in the salad.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Italiano

Chicken pieces ready to be baked for step 1

Chicken pieces ready to be baked for step 1

Chicken pieces with sauce

2nd step-Chicken pieces with sauce ready to be baked

Chicken pieces with sauce and cheese- ready to be served!

Chicken Italiano ready to be served!

Maybe it seems a little off season during summer months, but this hearty Italian dish is simple to make, including in advance, rich tasting and satisfying when you don’t want to barbecue burgers and want something easy and delicious to serve for a dinner party or as a treat your family.

When my kids were growing up, this was one of their favorites, plus it was one of the first dishes my son mastered; (he’s  now 28 and an excellent cook).

As I said, this can easily be made in advance as there are only a few steps. Just make it through step 1, refrigerate and do the final baking just before you’re ready to serve. Very easy, very delicious, low carb–hope it becomes a favorite for you too!

Chicken Italiano ( serves 3-6)

INGREDIENTS:

–6-8 Chicken pieces (we prefer breasts and thighs)

–1 32 oz. jar pasta sauce ( I’m a Mazzetta’s fan- any type of theirs is very good– or make your own)

–6-8 cheese slices; we use goat cheese slices from- yes, my go-to place; Trader Joe’s

–no salt spices, fresh oregano if you have it

–1-2 eggs, beaten

— bread crumbs- your choice ( I actually toast whole grain bread and crumble it, or use commercial whole wheat bread crumbs)

TO DO:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Spread about 1 cup sauce on bottom of a 9×13 baking pan

Dip chicken pieces in egg ( both sides)

Either dredge chicken in bread crumbs in a plastic bag or in a flat pan

Add chicken to baking pan (I use Pyrex)

Step 1: bake chicken for about 20 minutes (here’s where you can let this cool and refrigerate and finish later- like the next day- obviously don’t wait too long!)

Step 2: Pour rest of sauce over chicken; add a cheese slice on each piece; sprinkle bread crumbs on top.

Bake for another 30 minutes, til brown and bubbly.

Serve with whole grain pasta, green salad with tangy vinaigrette, and a good bottle of red wine if you like.

Enjoy!