August 10, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:
Getting Fresh

Note: Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude is a weekly(ish) feature about food, food and more FOOD. No, I am not an expert, but I do enjoy talking about food prep, cooking food, eating food and making sweet love to food.  Okay, maybe not the "sweet love" part. After all, this is not meant to be an homage to 9 1/2 Weeks.

Recipe Index can be found here. 

We have managed to wring as much fun as possible out of this last full week of summer! Turns out that playdates with special friends, Dinosaur Camp and the Leavenworth County fair are a great way to wrap up the season before the drudge of school starts. Still, I am going to miss our easy days and even more, I am going to miss my kids, so I was glad that we were able to relax a bit this week.

One of the best parts about the end of summer is the influx of fresh produce. Although I live deep in the heart of the soul-sucking suburbs, a local farm sets up a stand just down the road from me. Additionally, my friend Christy (yes, the same Christy of Bourbon Slushie and Kansas Beef fame) has had a bumper crop in her garden and more importantly, she watched her fair share of Sesame Street growing up and loves to share.  At one point, I was so inundated with tomatoes and cucumbers, I was running out of ideas until one evening, out of desperation, I chopped, diced and mixed myself into a salad of mouth-watering perfection and finished with   Trader's Joe salad dressing.  (I did experiment with Ranch dressing and have included an alternative for that.  I don't like recipes that are dependent upon an ingredient that might be hard to find if you do not happen to have a particular store in your area.)

This salad is alive with zest and texture.   I love how the arugula gives this salad a distinctive burst of flavor.  Although, if you don't like arugula, spinach would do just as nicely.  Also, chop the cukes however you like.  In this case, size actually does not matter. Sure, I prefer smaller pieces, but the food police are not going to show up if you use bigger pieces. And tomatoes?  I've used everything -- big, watery beefsteaks and small, halved cherry tomatoes (Bonus Points? Use a mix of tomatoes.)  And the Trader Joe's dressing?  Is to die for.  No really.  I have already started some reconnaissance on how to make a similar cilantro dressing from scratch and if I figure it out, trust me, I will share it with you, Gentle Reader.

After all, I grew up on Sesame Street, too.


Arugula, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad

2 cups chopped cucumber (any size!)
2 cups chopped tomatoes (any tomato!)
2 cups finely chopped arugula
3 tbs Trader Joe's Cilantro Dressing
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Mix ingredients and serve!

Not a fan of arugula?  Use spinach!  Don't have a Trader Joe's?  Use a Ranch dressing instead and omit the sugar and salt.

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