Friday, June 29, 2012

Shepherd Salad and Rice Pilaf

I ate a lot of great food when I lived in Turkey.  Some of my favorites were home-cooked specialties that were quite labor intensive.  One of my favorite meals however was quite simple.  I loved Turkish rice pilaf with a big scoop of Shepherd salad on top. 

Shepherd salad, or coban (pronounced joe-bon) salad is usually made with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley, with fresh garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt.  My favorite variation is chopped tomato, cucumber, and onion.  When I scoop my salad over my rice, I include a good amount of the juice (the mixture of the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and tomato juice). 

Shepherd salad is a great side dish for many meals, but I especially love it with rice. 

Shepherd Salad (Coban Salad)

1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
Salt to taste

I usually combine the chopped cucumber and chopped onion in a bowl, add salt, and let sit for 30 minutes.  I refrigerate if I have room. 

I chop and salt the tomatoes separately.  I like to make enough Shepherd Salad for leftovers, but I mix with fresh tomatoes.  I prefer the texture of the fresh tomatoes versus the tomatoes refrigerated in the lemon and oil. 

Next I add the garlic, lemon juice and olive oil to the cucumbers and onions. 

Refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Add tomatoes before serving. 

Rice Pilaf

1 cup Uncle Ben’s long grain converted rice
1 cup medium grain rice, such as Hindoe
5 cups water
1/3 cup small, thin pasta
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Chicken bouillon powder

Prepare rice pilaf similar to Rice-a-Roni.  Get oil hot in skillet.  Add pasta, when starting to brown, add butter.  Cook until pasta is browned.  Don’t add the butter too soon, because it will burn before the pasta is browned. 

Add rice, water, and about one heaping tablespoon of chicken bouillon.  Cover and cook on medium for 25 minutes or until water is absorbed. 

Serve pilaf with Shepherd Salad on top.  Rice pilaf is also great in tomato soup. 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fresh Vegetable Pasta

We had a simple, yet fabulous dinner last night of pasta with fresh vegetables.  My recipe yielded two large servings, which I immediately regretted.  This dish “tastes like more” as we often say at our house.  My rationale at the time was that I did not want to have leftovers because I wanted the pasta and squash warm, and my tomatoes room temp.  Since this dish does not have a sauce, it may not reheat well in the oven or on the stove top (I don’t use a microwave anymore.)  So be warned, you may want to bump up the recipe a bit, even if you don’t want leftovers, you may want more in the here and now. 

I really wanted to use vegetables from my Scott Arbor organic vegetable program.  I had loads of fresh squash and tomatoes, and had bought a few ears of fresh corn over the weekend.  I also had fresh organic basil, which I was too lazy to put in because of the late hour, but it would be a nice addition.  My final dish is a combination of a couple Rachael Ray recipes. 


1 small zucchini

1 small yellow squash

2 small tomatoes

2 ears corn

½ 8-oz box spiral pasta

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1.  Cook pasta in salted water.  When done, drain and return to pot. 

2.  Cut zucchini and yellow squash into thin slices.  Sauté in olive oil, 2-3 minutes in batches in a hot skillet. 

3.  Cut corn off cob.  Sear in hot skillet, about 30-60 seconds. 

4.  Peel and dice tomatoes. 

5.  Combine pasta, zucchini, yellow squash, corn, and tomatoes.  Add a few tablespoons chopped fresh basil if you have it. 

6.  Serve with fresh grated Parmesan. 

Pappardelle Pasta with Corn, Squash, Onion and Mushroom

For this version, I used Bertolli Alfredo Sauce and fresh corn, tomatoes, yellow squash, baby bella mushrooms, and purple onions