Honeydew Cucumber Salad with Pumpkin Seeds, Feta, and Mint

This recipe came about by standing in front of my open fridge and wondering what I should bring to a lunch gathering. It was very hot outside and I was short on time, so I was envisioning a dish that was simple, quick, tasty, healthy, thirst quenching, and party worthy. I had been working on gazpacho recipes and when my eyes landed on the leftover honeydew melon, cucumbers, and mint an idea started to form. I already knew those ingredients tasted good together and that savory watermelon salads were popular, so I re-purposed the melon gazpacho ingredients, used the pumpkin seeds for crunch, and crumbled in some feta cheese for a refreshing salad that’s high in water, fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C.

½ honeydew melon, cubed

1 large cucumber with skin, organic and un-waxed if possible [see note below]

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

¼ cup roughly chopped mint, basil, parsley or cilantro

2-3 Tablespoons lime juice

1- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 Tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, optional

Prepare melon, cucumber, onion, and mint as described and place them in a large bowl. When ready to serve, drizzle salad with lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Toss to coat and top with pumpkin seeds and optional feta cheese.

Catherine McConkie 2017, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • This is one of those “make it how you like it” or “what you have on hand” salads. Mild mannered melon and cucumber go well with many other vegetables!
    • Orange or red cherry tomatoes
    • Celery
    • Green apple
  • For a Latin twist, substitute cilantro for the mint and add cubed Jicama and 1 large jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • Season, age at harvest, growing and storage conditions all impact sweetness, “juicy” factor and taste of fresh produce. Have confidence adjusting the the ratio of honeydew to cucumber to your liking and tinkering with the amounts of lime juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs needed in order to make your taste buds come alive.
  • Cucumber with it’s skin will add extra nutrients and fiber to any dish but they are consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list for high pesticide residue. Lightly peel the cuke if organic and/or un-waxed product isn’t available

 

Tomato Red Pepper Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a quintessential soup for the dog days of summer. For me, sipping a big bowlful is an enjoyable and tasty way to stay hydrated and get loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients at the same time.  Serves 8

1 ½ – 2 cups tomato juice or tomato juice blend, low sodium if possible

6 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered

2 small red bell peppers, roughly chopped [about 2 ½ cups]

4 medium or 2 large stalks celery, roughly chopped [about 1 ½ cups]

1 medium organic and un-waxed cucumber with skin, roughly chopped [see note below]

1 small zucchini, roughly chopped [about 1 cup]

¼ cup roughly chopped red onion

¼ – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons capers

1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh jalapeno

1 large clove fresh garlic

1 teaspoon sea salt [decrease amount to ½ teaspoon if not using low sodium tomato juice]

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley

½ – 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Place the tomato juice, tomatoes, red peppers, celery, cucumber, zucchini, onion, olive oil, capers, jalapeno, garlic, salt, and dried oregano into the blender container. Blend on high until vegetables are fully broken down and soup is very smooth. Add the sherry vinegar, lemon juice, fresh basil, parsley, and ½ teaspoon of maple syrup.

Blend on high for another 30-45 seconds or until basil and parsley are finely chopped and well incorporated. Taste and see if an additional pinch of salt, sherry vinegar, or maple syrup is needed for brightness and balance. Serve chilled.

Catherine McConkie 2017, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • Season, age at harvest, growing and storage conditions all impact the sweetness, “juicy” factor and taste of fresh produce. Have confidence tinkering with the amounts of lemon juice, sherry vinegar, salt, oil, and maple syrup needed in order to make your taste buds come alive.
  • Variation: for a more chunky texture stir in some diced celery or cucumber, chopped green olives, or crumbled croutons before serving
  • Cucumber with it’s skin will add extra nutrients and fiber to any dish but they are consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list for high pesticide residue. Lightly peel the cuke if organic and/or unwaxed product isn’t available

 

Honeydew Cucumber Gazpacho with Pumpkin Seeds and Basil

This fresh take on gazpacho is restorative, hydrating, and a perfect remedy if feeling fatigued or depleted. Members of the   cucurbitaceae or gourd family, honeydew melon and cucumber are a natural pairing. The pumpkin seeds in this chilled soup lend texture along with essential fats, fiber, and easily digestible proteins. Jalapeno pepper, citrus, and fresh herbs team up with the watery gourds to deliver a super fast, super delicious dose of  vitamin C, and potassium.                  

Makes about 6 cups

4 cups cubed honeydew melon

1 large organic un-waxed cucumber with skin, cubed [see note below]

¼ – ½ cup water

6 Tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds

1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh jalapeno

1 medium scallion, roughly chopped

2 Tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

¼ cup roughly chopped basil

2 Tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley

Place melon, cucumber, ¼ cup water, pumpkin seeds, jalapeno, scallion, lime and lemon juices, and salt into the blender container. Blend on high until very smooth. If soup is too thick, add more water in 2 Tablespoon increments to assist blending until desired consistency is reached.

Add fresh herbs and blend on high for another 30-45 seconds or until basil and parsley are finely chopped and well incorporated. Taste and see if another pinch of salt or lime juice is needed for balance. Serve chilled.

Catherine McConkie 2017, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • Season, age at harvest, growing and storage conditions all impact sweetness, “juicy” factor and taste of fresh produce. Have confidence adjusting the the ratio of honeydew to cucumber to your liking and tinkering with the amounts of jalapeno, lime juice, lemon juice, salt, and maple syrup needed in order to make your taste buds come alive.
  • Variation: substitute ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint for the basil and parsley, increase fresh lime juice to 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons.
  • Cucumber with skin will add extra nutrients and fiber to any dish but unfortunately these fruits are consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list for high pesticide residue. Lightly peel the the cucumber if organic and/or un-waxed aren’t available.
  • Storing the melon and cucumber in the refrigerator before using them in the recipe saves time and will make this soup ready to eat in about 5 minutes.

Roasted Russet and Sweet Potato Peelins’

Potato and sweet potato peelings typically get composted or tossed. Here the peels are salvaged and re-purposed into, quite possibly, the Holy Grail of scrappy snacks. Fiber rich skins are tasty and filling, they will definitely answer the call for salty, crispy cravings. Nutrition, great flavor, costs essentially nothing in money or time, and guilt free – have you ever known a potato chip able to make that claim? And if that’s not enough here’s one more thing; they can be made in that toaster oven over there in the break room. Just sayin’….

Roasted Sweet Potato Skins

Inspiration for this recipe came from roasted Russet skins. It combines the sweetness of sweet potato with the earthiness of smoked paprika and ground cumin to mimic flavors reminiscent of barbeque potato chips.

Peelings from 2 medium sweet potatoes, about 1½-2 loose cups

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes so that a tiny amount of flesh remains with the skin. Place the peelings in a bowl and add the oil, spices, and salt. Use your hands to mix and evenly coat the cut surfaces. Transfer the skins to a lined baking sheet and mostly spread them out. It’s ok if some of them are touching. Roast for 9-10 minutes, until crispy but not turning too dark; start checking them at about 7 minutes and every minute afterward to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes to cool.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

Roasted Russet Potato Skins

These are straight up delicious; they taste like a mash up of a chip and French Fry. There’s a hundred different ways one could go with flavorings but I kept them classic and simply seasoned with sea salt and a little pepper.

Peelings from 2 medium Russet potatoes, about 1½-2 loose cups

2 teaspoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

few grinds of black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the potatoes so that a tiny amount of flesh remains with the skin. Place the peelings in a bowl and add the oil, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to mix and evenly coat the cut surfaces. Transfer the skins to a lined baking sheet and mostly spread them out. It’s ok if some of them are touching. Roast for 9-10 minutes until crispy but not turning too dark. Remove from the oven and let stand a few minutes until cool.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

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