Sometimes great recipes happen by chance. You have a little leftover vinaigrette, a little cucumber raita. You mix ‘em together, and—presto!—a great new salad dressing. This makes enough for 2 1/2 cups of cooked couscous or about 5 ounces of greens. It’s really good! HARRY
Raita is a South Asian condiment made of yogurt, herbs, spices, cucumber, and/or onion. It is very much like Greek tzatizki. Because it is cooling to the mouth, raita is traditionally served with hot curries. You can season this basic recipe with cilantro, mint, ground cumin, and/or ground hot peppers such as cayenne, if you like. For serving with Curried Red Dal, though, I prefer the simple cucumber version because the dal has its own seasonings. SAM
PS I have read that in the Indian Ayurvedic healing tradition. cucumber and yogurt are not served together. Maybe some of our very knowledgeable Indian readers can enlighten us.
1 (16-ounce) carton plain yogurt, whole-milk, reduced-fat, or non-fat
2 (4- to 5-inch) cucumbers, peeled and coarsely grated
This is same procedure we followed for Yogurt Cheese. Line a 7-inch sieve or colander with two layers of paper towels, letting the edges hang over the rim. Place it over a large bowl and spoon in 16 ounces of plain yogurt. Fold the paper towels over the top, anchor with a small plate, and place a 5-pound weight on top. Let drip for 3 or 4 hours or overnight in the fridge. Meanwhile, place the grated cucumber in another sieve over a large bowl with a weighted plate on top and let drip for 1 hour. Save the juice in the bowl for thinning the Raita. Combine the Yogurt Cheese and cucumber, thinning with juice, if necessary. Serve on Curried Red Dal or as a dip.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Gazpacho is a guaranteed cooler on a hot, hot day. Traditionally, it’s made with raw vegetables, but if you don’t like the taste of raw bell pepper, onion, or garlic, you can steam or sweat them. The watermelon and beet add layers of color and sweetness nicely offset by the vinegar and mustard. It’s a lovely, lovely soup. SAM
1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and quartered (3 medium)
1 medium center ribs celery with leaves, quartered
1 small green or red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 small poblano or chipotle pepper, seeded and quartered
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and quartered
1 cup seeded, chopped watermelon
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 small uncooked beet, trimmed and sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
3 dashes hot-pepper sauce or to taste
1/4 teaspoon curry powder, if desired
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sour Cream or yogurt cheese
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
You can purée the soup in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or in a medium mixing bowl with an immersion blender. Combine the tomatoes, celery, peppers, onion, garlic, cucumber, watermelon, parsley, and beet. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, hot-pepper sauce, curry powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Serve garnished with sour cream or yogurt cheese and/or avocado.
Makes 4 servings.
Soaking cucumbers and onions in salted ice water makes them crisp enough to pop. Then the oil and vinegar marinade pickles them slightly. I could eat the entire bowl, even before I add the sour cream! SAM
3 medium cucumbers, scored or peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced with rings separated
1 cup olive oil
1 cup cider vinegar
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large salad bowl, alternate layers of cucumbers and onion, sprinkling each layer with salt. Cover with ice water and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Drain the cucumbers and onion, rinse thoroughly under running water, drain again, and pat dry. Return to the bowl and cover with oil and vinegar. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours more. Drain the cucumbers and onions again. Return to the bowl and stir in the sour cream and pepper. Sprinkle with paprika.
Makes 8 servings.