Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gaspacho Pasta Salad...and cucumber/green onion/chive raitziki

The potager's sole cucumber plant has put out a fruiting flush right at the end of its growing season. As there are still some recently harvested green peppers and beefsteak tomatoes in the fridge, gazpacho came to mind. But so did pasta!

For two meal-sized or four smaller servings of Gaspacho Pasta Salad, you will need around 24 fluid ounces of cooked penne (ridged, hollow pasta tubes which hold dressing well without getting too soggy), one large, peeled cuke, two medium tomatoes, 1 large green pepper, a couple of hard-boiled eggs (if desired), several garlic cloves, 2 fluid ounces of sherry vinegar, 6 fluid ounces of olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper.

Check, especially with garden-grown cucumbers, that they are not bitter.

While the pasta is cooking (takes about ten minutes), wash and dry the veggies. Then chop coarsely the tomatoes, green pepper (first remove seeds and white inner parts), and peeled cucumber.  Mince finely the garlic. Put the veggies in a large bowl.

Make a vinaigrette: put the sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt (start with a 1/2 tsp, more can be added to taste), and about 1/4 tsp of freshly ground pepper in a small jar. Screw on lid and shake well.

Drain well the pasta and add to the veggies. Toss the whole lot with the vinaigrette (all may not be needed). Adjust seasonings. It does taste good tepid if you are too hungry to chill the salad. Hard boiled eggs are often used to garnish gaspacho soup, so they could be included to make a complete meal. The glistening pasta and colourful veggies add up to one delicious dish.

Another variation is making a gaspacho hero/submarine/hoagie. Split a sandwich length of French bread. Pull out the soft center from both halves and tear them into small pieces.

Bread in general freezes well, so keep some in the freezer for convenience

Add la mie (bread sans crust) to the salad and toss well, ensuring that the bread absorbs the dressing.

Layer the salad on the bottom half and top with minced hard-boiled eggs.

Dribble a bit more dressing and cover with top half. This fresh-tasting sandwich's crunch is offset by la mie sponging up the vinaigrette.

When our family from Britain came to visit recently, my sister-in-law gifted me with a book, The Forager's KitchenThe author, +Fiona Bird, has created tasty and creative recipes based in part on ingredients she is able to forage in Scotland from forest, beach, and meadow. One of her recipes came in handy for using up the last of the cucumbers. She writes, My husband, Stephen, invented this recipe name because it is a cross between a raita and a tzatziki.

The wild ingredient in this recipe, ramps (wild garlic), does grow in our potager, but in early spring. I substituted both mature ciboule (Welsh onion) which I had planted in early spring and garlic to take the place of the ramps. Slender green onions could be an alternative to ciboule.

Twinned mature ciboule

To make four side servings you will need the white part from five ciboule or ramps (ten young green onions can be substituted), one fat, peeled garlic clove (if not using ramps), one half of a medium cucumber, fifteen chives about 7 inches (18 cm) in length, 3 tablespoons of crème fraîche, juice and zest of 1/2 small lime or lemon, and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel or sea salt.

Grate the peeled cucumber into a sieve placed over a bowl. Sprinkle the grated cucumber with the salt and let stand for fifteen minutes.

While the cucumber is draining, mince the chives, ciboule/green onions/ramps, and garlic (if not using ramps) finely, using either a mixer or a knife. Make the lemon zest.

Ceramic knives keep their edge without sharpening!

Ease a small bowl into the sieve and press out as much liquid as is possible.

When you think you have gotten the grated cucumber as dry as possible, think again and give it one last pressing.

In a bowl, mix together the crème fraîche, freshly ground black pepper, lemon juice/zest (add the juice gradually to ensure that it does not become too tart for your taste), the minced green onions/chives/garlic mixture, and the drained cucumber.

The raitziki was full of zing and win and would go well served with spicy food.

The potager has been enjoying many a day of rain while we have been enjoying staying in, looking out at the rain...

Looking through French doors overlooking the side balcony and garden

while doing justice to the remaining cantaloupes that were harvested before the garden became The Soggy Kingdom.

Dayo likes a romp outdoors from time to time as long as we towel dry him when he comes back in.

À la prochaine! 


Chilled Cucumber Soup
Refrigerator pickles
Cantaloupe Granita Caramel Cream Parfait