Summer, for me, is all about having the time to gather with those I love, day trips that can turn into extended stays, reading books that have nothing to do with education and have everything to do with smut, and making and/or eating incredible food.
My one problem? Since I live in California’s Central Valley where an average summer day can reach 105 degrees, the last thing I want to do is turn on my oven or light up my stove to make a meal.
As someone who loves to cook, this can be a conundrum. My solution? Rather than feed my guests ice cubes, I’m all about heatless cooking. Before you go, “Oh gawd. She’s going to talk about a raw food diet. Hope she invested in Charmin extra strong,” I will still boil water for my orzo pasta and roast shrimp in my oven for my roasted shrimp and orzo salad. Sure I end up understanding my mother’s menopausal hot flashes when I’m making it, but it’s worth it.
But there are times when I’m not in the mood to empathize with my mom’s “maturing” hormones, and that’s when I go to my ultimate summer dish: my Big Not-So Fat Greek Cucumber Salad.
What’s the criteria for a summer dish to reach “ultimate” status? First, it has to be easy to make. Second, it has to take less than a half an hour to prep and create. Third, little to no heat should be required because if you’re hosting, no one wants to see you all
nasty salty glistening. This dish meets all the criteria.
Julie’s Big Not-So Fat Greek Cucumber Salad
Stock up that refrigerator with these:
- 2 to 3 cucumbers, halved and diced cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1/4 to 1/2 red onion, sliced thin (Julie’s cooking tip: refrigerate your red onion for at least 24 hours prior to slicing to help stop your eyes from watering and your mascara from proving it’s not really waterproof.)
- 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1/4-1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 of lemon juice (typically 2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons of oregano
- 1/2 cup of feta cheese (Julie’s cooking tip: this is already going to be a healthy meal, so don’t freak out and buy fat free feta cheese. It’s trash. Also, if you have a friend who doesn’t like feta cheese and pushes it to the side, your friend is most likely an evil warlord from a distant galaxy, trying to take over the earth. Run.)
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Optional (and highly recommended): pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
Get your Greek on:
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano. Mix until well blended.
- In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, red onion, tomatoes together. Pour the olive oil-lemon juice mixture over the vegetables and mix well.
- Season with salt and pepper. Don’t over salt! You’ll be adding feta cheese and most likely (unless you’re gutter trash that decides not to) the Kalamata olives, which add salt.
- Add feta cheese and olives, and carefully mix until blended.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. The longer you let it sit and marinate, the better it will be and you will win summer dinner parties forever.