Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup

Here on the East Coast we’ve been experiencing one of the hottest summers on record and on some days it was difficult to know what to fix for meals.  Appetites were lagging and I haven’t been motivated to expend much energy in cooking.

However cucumbers are one vegetable that I like to eat when it’s hot and so I’ve turned to this recipe for a chilled light soup  that is both refreshing and nutritious.  I wrote about this cold soup last summer, but it’s certainly worth bringing back for another look, (and some better photography) especially for those readers who may have missed it.

I like to serve a cup of it along with a fresh tomato that has been stuffed with some kind of salad, like tuna salad.  

INGREDIENTS

SERVINGS:    4

  • 2-3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes  (about 2 cups)

    The colors of the ingredients make it look cool even before making it,

    The colors of the ingredients make it look cool even before making it,

  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 small minced jalapeño pepper ( seeds and ribs removed for less heat)
  • 1/3 cup sliced scallions
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 medium sized shrimp, (about 6 ounces), peeled and deveined

DIRECTIONS

1.  In a blender, combine half the cucumber and 1 avocado with the yogurt, lime juice, jalapeño, scallions, 1 Tablespoon cilantro, 1 cup ice water,  1  teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Puree until completely smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl.

2.   Cut remaining avocado into 1/4 cubes.  Stir avocado and remaining cucumber into soup.  Thin with 1/2 to 1 cup ice water, as desired.  Taste and season again with salt and pepper.  Chill about 1 hour.

3.  In a large skillet,  heat oil over medium-high heat.  Cook shrimp, turning once, until opaque throughout, 2-3 minutes.  Ladle soup into bowl; garnish with shrimp and remaining cilantro.

The pureed avocado and yogurt give this soup its creamy texture.  I kept the heat level down by using only half the jalapeño pepper, and I could have used it all because the yogurt and cool smoothness subdues the pepper’s heat.  This soup was definitely a hit with both me and Mr. D. It would make a nice first course to a larger meal or a lunch combined with a salad or sandwich. It is cool and very yummy.  You have got to try this!

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Stuffed Tomato

SOURCE:  Whole Living  Newsletter by Martha Stewart

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Keeping it Cool!

Creamy Watermelon Pie

Creamy Watermelon Pie

Watermelon and Cucumber Salad

Watermelon and Cucumber Salad

The heat wave in the East continues.  This is day #7, with at least one more day of it before some promised cooler weather makes its way here sometime over the weekend.  The electric company is asking us to limit power usage during peak times, so I’m not using the stove or oven, and it’s too darn hot to stand outside over the grill cooking.  What’s my solution to preparing meals?

Well, since the refrigerator can’t be turned off, I am making use of it to the max and we are eating cold foods.  Today, I went to the super market early in the morning to get some necessary items for my menu.  You know, I actually Shivered while shopping in the frozen foods isle.  Yikes, almost didn’t recognize what was happening!   When I got home I did a little preliminary cooking (morning is not peak time for power usage.), so that I could put together a cold salad plate for dinner.  It turned into a Salad Niçoise, but I’ll save that for another day.

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Two foods that always suggest coolness to me are watermelon and cucumbers.  Having purchased some of each of those foods, I was  led  to create a salad combining both of them.  Chilled watermelon and chunks of cucumber tossed with feta cheese, fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic dressing.  I love that salty-sweet-tangy thing going on.  It is guaranteed to keep you cool as a cucumber when the temperature outside will have you melting.  I could be happy eating just this for lunch;  it is so refreshing and cool.

The second item I made using watermelon was Creamy Watermelon Pie.  A pie so refreshing that it never lasts long on a hot summer day.  Using just a few convenience foods, you can make it in a flash, then sit back and wait for it to thicken.  Dee-lightful!

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CHILLED WATERMELON, CUCUMBER AND FETA SALAD

Yield:   Servings,  4IMG_4632

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chilled seedless watermelon, diced large
  • 1 medium chilled seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh mint – or basil- thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette

In a large bowl, place the watermelon and cucumbers.  Top with feta and mint or basil.   When ready to serve, drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette, and toss to combine.

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SOURCE:   adapted from  Skinny Taste.com

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CREAMY WATERMELON PIE

Yield:  6 – 8 servings

Ingredients:IMG_4608

  • 1 package  (3 ounces) watermelon flavor gelatin  (I used Jolly Rancher Brand)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 cups cubed seeded watermelon
  • 1  ( 9-inch) graham cracker (or other) pie crust.  (I always use Shortbread Cookie Crust)

Directions:

In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Meanwhile cut up watermelon into small cubes. Whisk the whipped topping into the gelatin; then fold in the watermelon.  Spoon into the crust.  Refrigerate for 2 hours until set.  Yield 6 – 8 servings

Pour filling into crust and chill for at least two hours.

Pour filling into crust and chill for at least two hours.

Such a pretty pink.

Such a pretty pink.

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SOURCE:   Taste of Home

Sweet Sliced Pickled Cucumbers

When your garden is producing cucumbers faster than you can eat them,  this recipe is just the ticket!  It was given to me several years ago by a very good friend who is lovely about sharing her recipes.  It is a particular favorite at our church suppers and everyone  seems to want to know how to make them.   This is the kind of recipe where it’s hard to stop eating them after one serving.  You will want to have a 2nd or even 3rd helping—-they’re that good!

Don’t shy away because of the word pickle in the title.  There’s no cooking,  well, just a tiny bit,  and no processing jars or any of that stuff.  It’s another of my recipes that I can truly  say is quick and easy.  Here’s all you need:

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3-4  large cucumbers, sliced.  Peel or don’t peel as desired.  (If they are waxed from the grocery store, then I peel them, but if they’re tender fresh cukes, I don’t.)
  • 1 large sweet onion, or 2 medium, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh dill, or  1 Tablespoon dill weed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. To slice the cucumbers and onion, use a mandolin slicer or the slicing blade on a food processor.  You want nice thin uniformly sliced vegetables.

Combine the cucumbers, onions, and dill in a large bowl.

2.   In a saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, water, and salt;  bring to a boil.   Pour the hot liquid over the cucumber mixture.  Stir to expose all the cucumbers and onions to the hot liquid.    Cover and chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

3.   Store in covered containers or jars with tightly closed lids.

It is amazing to me how crisp these cucumbers become as they cool.  They are great used as a condiment, a cold salad, or layered in a sandwich.  (My husband likes them on a grilled hot dog.)   They will keep for a week or two in the refrigerator.  Please note that in the accompanying photos I am making half a recipe with 2 large cucumbers.

Summer-strone-zpacho

A regional farmer’s market has opened nearby, and I couldn’t wait to go and browse all the stalls.  I just love looking at all the fresh produce, herbs, cheeses and baked goods.  My creative juices start to flow as I imagine what I could do with it all.   Everything was so tempting, that I had to exert great self-restraint, and therefore brought home mostly vegetables.

Using some of that bounty I put together this soup that bears some resemblance to Minestrone, except there are no beans, and instead of the usual ditalini I used Israeli couscous.  It is also a little like gazpacho except there are no peppers. It does contain cucumbers,  part of it gets pureed, and it can be enjoyed warm or cold.  Its a great summertime soup for a light lunch, or perhaps combined with a sandwich or salad for a light supper.  I’m not sure what to call it so let’s just say  —-  Summertime  Vegetable Soup.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Kirby cucumbers (3 med.size), peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • one 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 small jar basil or mixed herbs pesto

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the couscous until al dente, 8-10 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat.  Add the cucumbers and cook stirring occasionally.  As they soften and become translucent, add the chopped onion and continue cooking another 4-5 minutes.  Don’t let them become too browned.  Stir in the tomatoes, paprika and vegetable broth.

3.  Using an immersion blender,  regular blender or food processor,  puree this mixture.  You may need to work in batches.  Return to the pot and stir in the couscous and shredded zucchini.  For cold soup refrigerate at this point.

4.  To serve warm, return the soup mixture to the stove and reheat, so the new added ingredients become warmed through.

5.  Serve the soup drizzled with the herb pesto.****

 

P.S.  This soup tasted even better the next day after flavors had time to meld.

 

****Stay tuned this week for my recipes on making your own pesto(s).

Source:  a Carolyn Original

Herby Cucumber Salad

  We enjoyed the company and friendship of some  close friends at a picnic/cookout over the weekend.  After the parade we all gathered in the backyard of one family, and everyone contributed a side dish or dessert.  And  of course, the men were in charge of the grill and its designated foods.

Salads of all kinds are usually welcome, and easy to transport,  so this salad was my contribution. It is cool,  creamy and tangy, and comes together in a flash.  Make the dressing in advance, and carry to the picnic in a separate container.  Toss it with the cucumbers and onions just before serving, otherwise the cucumbers will release too much water.  This salad got rave reviews, so I thought I would share it with you.

  • Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup low-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons  Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 5 1/2 cups thinly sliced cucumber (about 2 large)
  • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
  1. Combine all ingredients except  cucumber and onion, in a food processor or a blender, and process until well blended.
  2. Place sliced cucumbers and onions in a large bowl, drizzle with the dressing mixture , and toss to coat.
Serves 6-8.
Source:  Cooking Light Magazine