July Strawberry Salad

Each year I look forward to strawberry season with eager anticipation. Upper Valley strawberries are so juicy and sweet – there is nothing like them! Picking these little red treasures at a U-pick farm means a fun family activity and a provides the perfect opportunity to visit a beautiful farm. Several Upper Valley farms are growing everbearing strawberries which means we get to enjoy fresh strawberries June-September!

Strawberries are so versatile, that they often show up in fruit salad or smoothies for breakfast, pies or cakes for dessert, straight out of the colander for snacking, and as an interesting addition the salads. A great way to combine three things that are in abundance in early July – basil, cucumbers, and strawberries – is this refreshing salad.

Although, this salad isn’t something you want to make ahead of time or keep for leftovers, it is a quick and easy side salad that marries the freshest things of the season.

Strawberry, Cucumber, and Basil Salad

Adapted from Cooking Light

strawberry, cuke, basil

Combine in a serving bowl and mix gently:

 

1 pint hulled strawberries, chilled and quartered

1 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

1 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

 

Toss in a small bowl:

 

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

pinch of salt and pepper

 

Combine strawberry and cucumber mixtures and toss. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Photo credit Julia A Reed

Chilled Cucumber Mint Soup with a Quick Salsa

As with the start of every September in Vermont, the warm days of summer are quickly transitioning into cool fall breezes. But before summer is completely behind us, let’s take the time to enjoy a refreshing bowl of chilled soup.

Last week I found myself with a small stockpile of the last of my garden’s cucumbers. Some were a little overripe, while others were small and not the most attractive. To say the least, they were imperfect and that made them a poor choice for pickles.

Seeding cukes

 

What does one do with so many cucumbers, if not make pickles? They don’t store for long and they don’t freeze. We don’t really cook them here either. People think having too much zucchini is a problem, but at least you have options there. Cucumbers on the other hand, need some creativity and quick.

Who knew that pureeing cucumbers in the food processor with yogurt and herbs leads to one fast, tasty soup? Usually chilled soups – aside from strawberry – don’t do much for me. But I think it was the balance of mint and jalapeno that won me over with this one. That, and my favorite Greek yogurt from Green Mountain Creamery, perhaps. It adds a hefty amount of protein and makes this soup a reasonable meal, at least from a nutritional perspective. From a filling perspective, you might want to supplement with a slice of bread.

cucumer sou

 

You should consider the recipe below as a base. Puree it together, taste, then take it wherever you want to go. I increased the mint, sugar and jalapeno quite a bit, but realize that’s not everyone’s taste.

When it’s to your liking, be sure to top with plenty of the simple salsa then take your bowl and head out to bask in the last of the warm summer sun.

chilled cuke soup

 

Chilled Cucumber Mint Soup with a Quick Salsa

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • For the soup:
  • 2 lbs cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • mint leaves, about 4 sprigs worth
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup water, as needed
  • For the salsa:
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb tomatoes, chopped
  • A small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • A splash of lemon or lime juice

Instructions

  1. Combine the peeled and seeded cucumbers in a food processor with the yogurt, garlic, jalapeno, mint leaves, sugar and salt. Pulse until smooth, adding in water as or if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt, sugar, mint, jalapeno or garlic, as needed.
  2. In a small bowl make the salsa by tossing the chopped tomato, onion and parsley with the citrus juice. Season with salt to your liking.
  3. Serve the cucumber soup in bowls topped with with the salsa.