Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meatless And Heatless, Raw Foods Are Cool..Literally! An Easy Summer Salad.

 Even though it's Wednesday, I can't stop thinking about Meatless Monday. One factor that's got me thinking about it is the approach of warmer weather, though one would hardly guess it from the way things look around here. Just as I was about to step outside for proof, it darkened and began raining.

 We've been having a cool, damp Spring here in Sonoma and even though it's not warm or dry enough to put up the dining tent my head it's already Summer.
 My mind has turned to salads. Indian salads. Cooling salads that require no cooking. These salads were made for warmer days than we are having right now, but they taste so good I couldn't resist waiting for Monday and made another one for lunch this afternoon.
  One of my birthday presents from Paula Wolfert was a small paperback cookbook that she'd had for many years. It was by Varsha Dandekar and was titled simply Salads of India.
  The book is a mix of a number of things, raitas, fruit salads, dal salads and of course my new favorite, the raw vegetable salad or kachumber.
  These are fast and easy to make and absolute naturals for all Summer cooking and cook-out needs.
 The salad I fixed today involves cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. I used Roma but as the season progresses here in Sonoma I'm looking forward to trying this with all sorts of different heirloom varieties.
 The other thing I love about this dish, it is low calorie and low fat. Each ingredient is kept apart in separate bowls and then mixed together right at table just before serving. It makes a great show.

  Here's how it goes.
 Peel and finely chop :
 3 cups of cucumber
 Place the cucumber in a separate bowl and set aside
Finely chop:
 2 cups of tomato
  Place the tomato in a separate bowl.
 Cover and refrigerate the cucumber and tomato until it is time to serve the salad.
 Finely mince:
 1 Tbs of serrano chili.
Mix it together with :
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of sugar
1 Tbs of lemon juice.
  How To Mix the Salad.
  In a salad bowl combine:
 The cucumber and the chopped tomato.

  Next toss in:
 2/3 cup of peanut powder Peanut powder can be found in Indian and Asian Markets. You can make your own as I did by shelling, peeling and roasting raw peanuts and grinding them up to a powder or grind them to powder first and roast them in a cast iron pan after.
1/2 cup of grated unsweetened fresh or frozen raw coconut. Dry coconut can also be "reconstituted" by adding a tiny bit of water, which will give it more or less the texture of fresh.
Next add the chili , lemon juice, sugar and salt mixture.
Moisten the salad well  and then finally toss in:
3 Tbs of finely chopped fresh cilantro.
Serve the dish right away for the best flavor and texture.
 This is going to be on my table for all the Summer get-togethers we have and it's definitely a take along dish. Just bring your chopped ingredients in baggies or small containers and mix 'em up on site.
Easy, delicious, fast and healthy...this meatless, heatless thing could catch on around here.


  1. Great! Love to see a meatless dish. I am doing the meatless days.... maybe we should link up?

  2. That looks wonderful for a summer day. I think that I am doing a whole Indian dinner this weekend for friends and I thought of you. Here is one for you.... If you wanted to knock someones socks off with an Indian dish, which would it be?

  3. @penny aka jeroxie,
    sure enough..I was a vegetarian for years and was when I started cooking Indian food 20 years I eat meat but I think I've got Alan on board for meatless mondays.

  4. @janis..yeah i wish we had a Summer day..still raining here. If I'm cooking for people who are not familiar with Indian food I usually do a Biryani as it's quite impressive when it's all laid out on a platter..more casual dining..tandoori chicken and naan, and this salad's dinner..for what I served Paula when I was really rolling it out...check my blog post.

  5. Your salad looks good, love all the spices, I'll try it this summer, if we ever get one!

  6. Oh Indian salad are simple but so tasty, and since I adore coconut, I know I would love this one. It's wet and muggy here too, not a pretty spring.

  7. It's been maddeningly hot and a salad like this is so very welcome right now! Great flavours here!

  8. oooh, this sounds fantastic. i can usually convince daniel to get on board with vegetarian dishes semi-often, but he's pretty convinced that raw dishes would not be filling for dinner. this looks like the perfect flavorful dish to show him otherwise. another great meatless dish/post :)

  9. Colorful and fresh! We eat meat free dinners once a week. It's so refreshing!

  10. We are a horribly carnivorous couple but this looks so delicious, even I'm on board :)

  11. @lawyer loves lunch,
    I hear you. There is a usually a walking around protein on the plate at our house..I was a veg for years but now eat meat..Alan is going offically meatless monday next week..planning his menu so he is not "unhappy"

  12. great sald, perfect for the heat outside today..makes you crave lighter foods..




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