Cucumber Watermelon Salad

          The first truly hot days of summer have arrived.  The sun beats down, the humidity closes in, and the last last last thing I want to do is turn on the oven, or even the stove.  This is the kind of weather that gets me to thinking about cool, crisp, refreshing vittles.  Little chilled bowls of juicy freshness.  This time of year, as the environs simmer, I often turn to this wonderful recipe.

          I found it many years ago in a magazine, and have been making it ever since, with a few alterations to make it (to my tastes) perfect.  The ingredients are few, but they work together brilliantly, the richness of the dressing contrasting with the fresh snap of cucumber and watermelon, accented by the bite of herbal greeness and the salty crunch of peanuts.  Perfectly balanced, simultaneously sweet, cool, and savory.

          This salad can be used for many things, as a light meal in and of itself, as an accompaniment to grilled fish or meat, as a salsa scooped with chips, or as an accent spooned within tacos, quesadillas, and wraps.  Use it however you like.  My only suggestion is this.  It doesn’t keep very well over time, so assemble right before serving, and consume all you want.  It is so good, like candy, but without causing guilt. 

Cucumber Watermelon Salad with Hoisin-Lime Dressing

3 cups watermelon, 1/2″ dice

1/4 tsp salt

2 large cucumbers

4 T fresh lime juice

3 T hoisin sauce

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup mint, chopped

1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

          Toss the watermelon with the salt, place in a strainer set over a bowl, and refrigerate for about an hour.  In the meantime, peel and seed the cucumbers, and chop into 1/2″ cubes.  Measure out 3 cups, saving the rest for another use.  Whisk together the lime juice and hoisin sauce.

          When the watermelon has finished draining, toss it together with the cucumber, the dressing, the herbs, and half the peanuts.  Sprinkle with the rest of the peanuts.  Serve immediately.

Tunisian Chickpea Soup

          This recipe makes me giggle.  Literally.  Me, giggling in the kitchen, as Paulo walks in, knowing that I am yet again up to something.  In this case, it is a soup that is so simple to make that the lovely result is almost inexplicable.  That is the first reason it makes me happy, but there are others.  To begin, this soup, Read entire post

May 272011
Thai Mango Noodles

           I read recipes.  Many of them.  Nearly every day.  To me they are as alluring as a good suspense novel, though I can’t explain exactly why.  Perhaps it is the pleasure of visualizing a dish from black and white words, or maybe it is the latent potentiality of tastiness inherent in a mere slip of paper.  Whatever the reason, I am compelled, Read entire post

Spring Peas with Nestled Eggs

          Spring peas make me happy.  Bright, crisp, and fragrant with new growth, they seem merry little harbingers of all the lovely vegetables that will ripen throughout the summer.  I have made countless recipes using peas, more than I possibly could remember.  This recipe, however,  is my latest discovery.           It seems such a modern recipe, suiting evolving sensibilities.  A few Read entire post

Tomato Braised Fennel with Olives

          What to do with fennel?  That is the question that perplexed me as I viewed the plump bulbs in the grocery store, their pale ivory color intensifying up into a grassy green along the stalks and wispy fronds.  A lovely spring vegetable, delicate in flavor, crisp in texture, its hint of anise flavor always (and forever more) reminds me of black jelly beans at Read entire post

May 072011
Dirty Rice

          Dirty rice isn’t pretty, but it sure tastes good.  I have been making dirty rice for more years than I can remember, have tried countless recipes, and eventually concocted this one as my own version of the traditional dish.  I’m guessing that every cook in the fine state of Louisiana has his or her own version, many of them Read entire post

Bengali Spiced Cabbage

          This is the type of food that makes me happy.  Take a few homely veggies (potatoes, cabbage, and tomatoes), throw in a few spices, simmer for a bit, and suddenly, like an emerging butterfly, a thing of beauty appears.  (I am in a spring simile kind of mood.)  Tasty and nutritious food need not cost much, nor take long to Read entire post

Pistachio Almond Cake with Lemon Icing

            I am all about eating healthfully.  Most of the time.  But sometimes, once in a long while I assure you, the sweet tooth starts demanding tasty treats.  And if I’m going to splurge, it’s going to be with something divine.  Not with a piece of industrial layer cake frosted with gritty sugar paste at an office birthday party, not with Read entire post

Cajun Seasoning Blend

          Cajun seasoning is by far my favorite spice blend.  I love many blends, from numerous cultures, garam masala, five spice, and Ras al Hanout, to name a few.  But none of the others, fragrant and complex though they may be, speaks to my little soul the way that Cajun seasoning does.  The mere scent of it, upon the opening Read entire post

Spanish Chicken with Garlic

          Spring has arrived.  Some days are fragrant with verdant growth, while others bluster with gray rain.  This is the time of year to make a great stew.  Not so much because of the intermittent cold, but because very soon, maybe in a matter of weeks, when warm weather has settled in to stay, a hot, steaming, bubbling concoction of Read entire post

Mar 312011
Kedgeree

          Sometimes the name of a recipe grabs me and won’t let go.  The British have been especially good at formulating oddly appealing names, forcing a person to explore them out of sheer curiosity.  Syllabub, anyone?  Banoffee?  Or how about spotted dick?  The list goes on and on, as anyone perusing British recipes soon learns.  Kedgeree caught my attention, sounding to Read entire post

Paulo's Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon

          Oatmeal seems like just another thing.  Like something your mother made you eat, or something that seems frightfully good for you, or something that your conscience (which you ignore) instructs you to consume.  Never would you think to describe oatmeal as delicious, luscious, decadent.  Surely, you reason, I must be consulting a defective thesaurus.  But this oatmeal is wonderful, worthy of those Read entire post

Coconut Red Lentil Curry

        It is March.  Yesterday was cold and rainy, today is warm and sunny, and tomorrow snow lurks about the forecast.  This is the time of year for comfort food, and I was going to talk about that, about the pleasure of preparing a big pot of thick and steaming stew to be consumed indoors on a murky day, or outside Read entire post

Kale with Olives, Pecans, and Raisins

          Spinach, most especially baby spinach, is an elegant and versatile ingredient that I use whenever possible.  Whether eaten raw in a lovely salad, sauteed quickly in olive oil, chopped and mixed into fresh ricotta to be eaten by itself or as a component of a greater dish, or prepared in any of a thousand other ways, spinach is as Read entire post

Cod Baked with Potatoes, Lemon, and Tomatoes

          Cooking is an ever-evolving art.  Techniques, ingredients, implements, and overarching philosophies all shift and change over time, often for the better, though not without exception.  Read any cookbook more than a decade or so old, and you will experience exactly what I mean.  Many recipes, as well as foodstuffs themselves, quickly become dated, fixing them within a quickly identifiable time period.           It Read entire post

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