Wednesday, July 25, 2007

cool as a cucumber .... appetizer, that is

this was always a favourite summer starter item at my house, especially on the hot evenings when no one had much an appetite due to the heat. i used to call it the "cucumber thing" but i'm sure it has a proper name. it is definitely a mediterranean appetizer and is good with all kinds of breads. it also keeps well for a few days in the fridge, if it lasts that long.

it takes very little time at all to make and most everything is already in your pantry. while you don't have to add the nuts, it does give it texture and extra flavour, especially if the walnuts are toasted. make sure to use the high fat types of sour cream and yogurt. it just doesn't taste the same using the low fat ones.

the resulting flavour should be sweet and sour. one ingredient with adds to the flavour is sumac. it is a dark reddish coarse powder that can be found at any middle eastern or mediterranean grocer. it has a pleasant mildly sour taste to it. if you can't get it, then use lemon juice as an alternative.

sometimes, as a variation, we added 1/4 to 1/2 c crumbled feta, depending on how salty it was. you could also add a bit of crumbled blue cheese or goat's (chevre).

cucumber & walnut summer appetizer

richly flavoured with sour cream and thick yogurt, this appetizer has texture from small green chunks of summer cucumber and lightly toasted walnuts. it is pleasantly sweet and sour and a good appetizer for hot summer evenings.

ingredients:

1 small seedless cucumber*
1 clove garlic, finely minced

1/2 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 tsp sugar
dill, fresh or dried (see recipe directions)

16 whole large shelled walnuts, toasted**
(1 is for garnishing)

1 c thick sour cream
1 c plain yogurt (thick kind is best)

1/4 - 1/2 c crumbled feta (optional)

extra virgin olive oil
sumac or lemon juice

* make sure its at least 6 -7 inches with a perfect skin (unwaxed/unsprayed)
** or use 3 or 4 tbsp coarsely chopped walnuts

method:

wash cucumber and cut off ends. cut in half and then cut again lengthwise into 5 or 6 strips. cut each strip into 1/4 inch dice. place in a bowl.

toast and chop the walnuts. add the chopped toasted walnuts, salt and sugar and stir to combine.
mince the garlic and add to bowl. do the same with the dill. if using fresh you need 3 tbsp or if using dry 1 1/2 tsp.

next add the sour cream and stir. then add the yogurt. blend everything together. you can add a bit more of sour cream or yogurt; the mixture should be quite thick.


add crumbled feta cheese at this point, if using. taste the mixture. it should taste fairly sweet and a little salty. adjust if you need to.

refrigerate covered until serving.

once you decide to eat it, drizzle olive oil in a concentric circle . you only need about 1 to 2 tbsp of oil. then sprinkle about 1 tsp sumac or 1 tbsp lemon juice around the mixture. you can garnish it with a walnut in the center (or a few more) and some extra fresh dill.

it goes very well with pita, lavash, or any other bread you enjoy and as part of a mezze table.

enjoy!


4 comments:

Lakshmi said...

wow....another yoghurt and cucumber recipe. I love both. Will try this for sure.

Maninas said...

wow this sounds fantastic! yuuuum!

Beenzzz said...

This looks absolutely wonderful. With the weather being as hot as it has been, this will be a much needed treat for me!

burekaboy — said...

hi lakshmi - LOL, yes, another one plus i have one more on the way!! hope you like this particular one. if you put nuts in it, make sure to toast them first as it makes a big difference in the final flavour.

maninas - actually haven't had it in a few years until recently. somehow i had completely forgot about it.

hiya beenzzz :) - you guys are being roasted alive, i see on the news. our hot weather has now returned with its horrendous humidity. good days for cold foods. stay cool ;)