Easter is early this year and just when our thoughts should be turning to chocolate and baking, Sydney is having an unseasonably hot spell of weather. The Easter holidays are just days away, I know I will feel compelled to eat some chocolate this weekend but, unless we get some kind of cool change, I don’t know how good I will feel about it.
The weekend just past was a hot, hot, hot. I hosted a big family lunch on Sunday and I had planned to do some baking as a way of gearing up to the great Easter bake off but, in the end, I just served lots of salads with barbecued marinated veggies, tofu and some kebabs for the carnivores. I made this salad as part of the spread. It has my favorite herb combination of parsley, dill and mint and is particularly cooling, light and perfect hot weather fare.
This recipe comes from an absolute gem of a book by Joanne Weir – From Tapas to Meze: Small plates from the Mediterranean. One of my best friends, who I shared various houses with over the years, owned this book and I cooked out of it many times, particularly when we were having a party. (It’s a great inspirational book for party food.) When my friend moved cities and took her cookbook collection with her, this was one of the books I missed most.
Finally, a couple of years ago, I purchased my own copy. It’s not a vegetarian cookbook, but it has such a sense of scholarship underpinning it and enough show stopper vegetarian recipes that it’s a worthwhile addition to any cook’s library.
Mediterranean food, with it’s concentration on fresh vegetables, herbs and olive oil, is the type of food I love to eat. The idea of making a feast of different small plates is one that is particularly suited to vegetarian food. While meat-eaters can rely on a ceremonial centrepiece of protein for feasts, the vegetarian needs a range of flavors, colours and textures. Individually, a dish can be very simple (as this salad is) but together, with other dishes, they become greater than the sum of their parts – a feast, in fact.
Cucumber and feta salad with dill and mint.
Adapted from Joanne Weir – From Tapas to Meze: Small plates from the Mediterranean.
- 225 grams (8 ounces) feta cheese.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
- 1½ teaspoons of fresh lemon juice.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- 1 large cucumber, peeled seeded and cut into a 1 cm dice.
- 1 small red onion diced finely.
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint.
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley.
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill.
- Lemon wedges, dill and mint for garnish.
- Crumble the feta coarsely into a bowl and toss it together with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Add the cucumber, onion, mint, dill and parsley and mix well.
- Garnish with sprigs of dill, mint and lemon wedges and serve with warm pita bread.
Vegetarian and gluten-free