Aunt  Suzy says . . . .

I’ve been on the lookout for summer sandwich ideas beyond the usual BLT and burgers on the grill.  Not that I don’t like those, but variety is the spice of life after all!  This sandwich was inspired by a recent NY Times “Recipes for Health” recipe.  I made a few adaptations – I thought this called out for a pita pocket vs. the english muffin specified in the recipe, for example.  The sandwich uses the bounty of summer so if it looks good to you, don’t wait till the season is over to make it!

Yield: Two sandwiches.

2 tomatoes

1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced in half moons

1/2  red onion, cut in half-moons

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice + plus 1/4 teaspoon white or red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 pita pockets, whole wheat recommended

Crumbled feta

Hummus, flavor of your choice

Slice one of the tomatoes and set the slices aside.  Dice the other tomato, removing seeds and extra juice.  In a small bowl, combine the diced tomato, cucumber, onion and mint.  Stir in the lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the pita bread in foil and heat in a 350° F oven for about 5 minutes until warm.  Cut the pitas in half and open the pockets.  Spread the bottom of each half with the hummus.  Place a slice or two of tomato on top.   Top with the tomato mixture and then add the feta cheese.  Yum!


Aunt Suzy says . . . .

It’s been a long time since I’ve made this dish, but since spring has just burst on the scene I tried to think of recipes that could be served at room temperature.  Not that it’s terribly hot, but it feels great to get out of the soup/stew pattern of the last many months.  I love mint and enjoy cooking with it – I’m always on the lookout for savory recipes that use mint.  This is from Lynn Rosetto Kasper’s The Italian Country Table cookbook, which is packed with delicious recipes.  She mentioned that this can also be made with tuna, which is more traditional than chicken.

I would rate this dish as easy but impressive! We served it with Lemony Quinoa and Oven Roasted Asparagus – the first of the season! It pairs well with a Sicilian white wine, but we had a rose on hand and it was a delicious match.

The Chicken

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Slice the chicken cross-wise in 1-inch (or so) strips.  Toss the chicken with the remaining ingredients, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-6 hours.  When ready to cook, heat a gridded skillet, griddle or 12-inch saute pan to medium-high heat.  Saute the chicken, sprinkling it with salt.  Turn the pieces until they start to pick up color, then turn down the heat to medium to medium-low.

Continue to cook about 5 more minutes, turning occasionally, until chicken is barely firm when pressed.  Transfer to a serving platter and cover with the mint sauce.  This can be served warm or room temperature.

Mint Sauce

1/4 medium red onion, small dice

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar

Pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1/4 tightly packed cup fresh mint, finely chopped, or more to taste

About 30 minutes before cooking the chicken, stir together the onion, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt/pepper in a small bowl.  Let sit 20 minutes, then add the olive oil.  Stir in the mint right before serving.


Aunt Suzy says

This is the salad that started the idea for our July 5th cookout of grilled meat with a bunch of side salads.  It was inspired by the recipe in the Taste section of our paper.  Use more or fewer Anaheim or Cubanelle peppers depending on how much heat you like.  If you are in a place without a large variety of peppers, I think a combination of different color bell peppers and jalapenos would be a good option.  The recipe didn’t call for preserved lemon, but if you have some I think it’s a great addition.

The Peppers

4 bell peppers of any color or a variety

2-3 large poblano peppers

3-4 Anaheim or Cubanelle peppers

Set up the grill for direct grilling.  Arrange peppers on the grill top and grill until the skins are browned and blistered on all sides, 3-4 minutes per side, 12-16 minutes in all, turning with tongs.  (Also grill the tops and bottoms for 1-2 minutes.)  Transfer to paper bag for a few minutes, and then take out and cool on a cutting board.  Scrape the charred skins with a paring knife.  Cut each pepper in half and scrape out the seeds.  Cut peppers into 1/4-1/2-inch dice.  Place peppers into a medium serving bowl.

Finishing the Salad and Dressing

2 tomatoes, seeded and cut to 1/4-1/2-inch dice

1/2 red or sweet onion, diced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, cilantro or parsley or a combo of your faves

1/4-1/2 preserved lemon rind, 1/8-inch dice (optional)

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Add the tomatoes, onion, herbs and preserved lemon to the bowl of peppers.  Whisk the remaining ingredients together, pour over the vegetables and toss to mix.  Here’s a photo of the finished salad.

Aunt Suzy says

My friend Karen Allinder put a picture of this on Facebook after one of her Five-Star Dinner Club gatherings and then sent me a message that I had to make it.  I had already made a mental note to ask for the recipe after seeing the picture!   I’ve been waiting until the time when cukes and watermelons are in our marketsat the same time.   I was a little suspect of adding cashews at first, but they provided a perfect crunch.  I tried it with and without the recommended feta cheese, and while I like it with, I prefer it without.  Try it both ways to decide for yourself.  Either way,  it is refreshing and delicious.

4 cups watermelon, 1/2-inch dice

1 cucumber, seeds removed, 1/2-inch dice

1/2 red onion, sliced and cut in 1/4 rounds

a handful of fresh mint, coarsely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

a handful of roasted, unsalted cashew pieces

a handful of feta cheese crumbles

Place the sliced onion in water to soak while you prepare the remaining ingredients.  Place the watermelon, cucumber and mint in a bowl.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  When ready to assemble the salad, remove these with a slotted spoon to another bowl (so there isn’t so much juice in the bottom).  Drain the onion and cut the slices in fourths.  Add the mint and the onions to the watermelon-cuke mixture and toss with the olive oil and lemon.  Immediately before serving add the cashews and the feta, if using.