With temperatures hovering well into the 80s and the dew point inching toward the 70s, nobody wants to cook on the grill or the stove, for that matter. These are the days when cool summer salads really hit the spot and nothing tastes better than a salad made with veggies picked right from the garden. Fortunately, all of the main ingredients in this salad from Allrecipes can be purchased at Colchester Neighborhood Farm, which has plenty of freshly harvested zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers for sale.
Cucumber Tomato Salad with Zucchini and Black Olives in Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 large cucumbers, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 cup chopped black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large salad bowl, mix together the cucumbers, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes, black olives, basil, and thyme. In a separate bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, sugar, and white pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour the olive oil slowly into the dressing mixture, whisking to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad, and serve.
Buying fresh fruits and vegetables from a local farm stand not only demonstrates healthy eating habits to children, it can teach them the value of supporting local agriculture. If we’re lucky, the trip to the farm can result in a few cherished memories. There is no denying that tomatoes or lettuce picked the same day taste better than the produce purchased from the grocery store. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of harvesting food from a backyard garden rather than a refrigerator, you will agree that the “chore” itself could be as fun as the food was tasty. I remember picking vegetables with my grandfather; he taught me how to choose the ripest and sweetest tomatoes and how to determine when peppers were ready to be picked. Even sweeter than those tomatoes are the memories of the experience that I still carry with me today.
By today’s standards, however, we are not always as diligent about taking time to smell the roses…or as the case may be, the basil. In our rush to complete all of our errands, making a special trip to a local farm, exclusively for the purpose of buying cucumbers and tomatoes, can seem like an added chore and one that could easily be eliminated, if we just purchased our produce at the local grocery store, along with all of the other items on our list. But sometimes, these everyday chores are the same ones that create an experience and in the process, a lasting memory, for children and parents, alike. If we eliminate these so-called chores, we may be denying ourselves and our children the pleasure of true, quality time spent together.
When you buy your fruits and vegetables from Colchester Neighborhood Farm, consider blocking out an extra 15 minutes or 30 minutes for the “chore” because it could easily turn into a fun and wonderful experience. Colchester Neighborhood Farm is a social enterprise in every sense of the word. Employing adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities who are more than happy to wait on their customers at the farm stand, they are also eager to show off their farm, which includes chickens, a friendly donkey named Dapple, and some goats and their babies…yes the kids love the kids! A visit to Colchester Neighborhood Farm is more than just buying fresh fruits and vegetables, it is an opportunity for our children to learn about agriculture, to see how their food is grown and where it comes from. And going home with a few good memories along with some fresh tomatoes, organically grown cucumbers, and a bouquet of fresh flowers isn’t bad either.
The first step to making Gazpacho is to concasse your tomatoes. This means to peel and seed. Fill a 2 qt. pot with water and bring to a boil. Using a paring knife or tomato shark, take to core out of the tomato and cut a small “x” just to score the skin on the bottom of the tomato. Get a bowl of ice water ready. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for 20 seconds. Lift from water and submerge in ice water. Allow tomato to cool for 2 minutes. Remove all tomatoes from ice bath. The skin should easily peel away from tomato. Cut the peeled tomatoes in half and using a small spoon, remove the seeds. Place the tomatoes in the blender, along with the red bell pepper, red onion, cucumber and tomato juice. Once the ingredients have been pureed to a smooth consistency, add the sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and sriracha. Turn blender on and slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Divide the gazpacho into 4 bowls. I like some texture in my gazpacho so I garnish with diced cucumber, scallion, juice of ½ lime and fresh watermelon. Make a nice mound in the center of the soup for a great presentation!
Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
Feeling tired in the afternoon? Put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.
Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror; it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.
Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.
Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles, too!
Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache.
Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders, and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.
Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe; its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.
Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!
Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water. The chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.
Just finished a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath. The phytochemicals will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.
Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean; not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won’t leave streaks and won’t harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.
Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing. It also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!