A grilled vegetable salad with a fresh herb dressing
Once again, zucchini feature prominently in this recipe. We just can’t get enough of this summer squash staple, whether we are turning them into chips, fritters or mixing them with other summer vegetables to make a quick meal. In this recipe, we use both green zucchini and yellow squash (which is often called yellow zucchini). Although both of these vegetables have very similar flavours, the difference in their colour makes this salad more interesting visually. Add to that the colourful bell peppers and the fresh green herbs and before you know it you will have a bowl of coloured goodness to serve.
Do you think that the combination of tomato and mango sounds strange? We do too! In fact, if you had suggested a few months ago that this flavour combination would be delicious, we would have rolled our eyes and suggested that you put your tomatoes to a better use, like with a nice Greek salad perhaps.
This summer we were so fortunate to have our cousin visit us from Australia. His mother and our mother are first cousins, but if you ask our mom, they were actually as close as sisters. Raised in the same house, they grew up sleeping in the same room (actually, the same bed), eating at the same table, and living similar experiences, from schooling to household chores, to family joys and struggles. When our mom left Greece to come to Canada she fully expected that her sister-cousins (there were 2) would soon follow her, as would her own siblings. Unfortunately, Canadian immigration laws at the time prevented her cousins from coming to Canada as they were too young; they instead immigrated to Australia. Although the cousins speak often, they have not seen each other since they were young women.
Our parents have a lovely marriage. They have been married for over 50 years and are still wonderful partners in love, family and of course, the kitchen. Sure, they argue once in a while (usually because our father has left the house without, what our mother deems to be, a warm enough jacket) but they are respectful, kind and considerate of one another. It is really heart-warming to see, and throughout our lives, they have served as great role-models for love.
Great unions such as theirs bring to mind other partnerships, like this citrus salad with fried halloumi. Growing up, our parents often served fried halloumi for breakfast, with a couple of fried eggs and some toast. They would also cook some up when we had guests over for a quick visit. Along with olives, nuts and bread, the fried cheese was great for impromptu visitors or to tide everyone over until dinner. Here, we’ve taken the fried halloumi, introduced to us by our parents, and married it with a lovely, fresh citrusy salad in a Mia Kouppa meets Our Kouppes creation. We hope you enjoy every part of it :).
They say you are what you eat. If that’s the case, then in the summer months we are villagers. When garden tomatoes have ripened, we use them to make, and eat, delicious Greek salad, also called a horiatiki salata (horio means village in Greek). We eat this salad every day. Not almost every day…but every, single, day. And we never tire of it.
It would be next to impossible to tire of a salad so full of flavour and amazing texture. For us, Greek salad or horiatiki salata is a gift of summer; easy to prepare, filling, deliciously fragrant and healthy. In fact, the only down side is that we live in a country where local, vine-ripened tomatoes are not readily available year round.
When we were teenagers, and decided that we knew everything, we would get into heated discussions with our parents over this salad. We had heard that when a knife is used to cut lettuce, as was the case in our parents’ kitchen, there is a chance that lettuce cell boundaries will be damaged. For reasons we never really understood, this resulted in sub-par lettuce leaves. Because of this, we explained to our parents that lettuce had to be torn, by hand, into large, bite-sized pieces; this was necessary to preserve its integrity. It was also the way most of our non-Greek friends ate their salad, and frankly, we wanted to be a little like them. Our parents gave the hand-torn lettuce a try (once), and quickly deemed the non-uniform, large-ish pieces of green, to be too cumbersome to eat. Back to the cutting board.
Perhaps you remember reading that black-eyed peas with spinach is one of our absolute favourite meals. It’s true, and that, of course, meant that our parents would make it often; they still do, and now we do too! Over the years, being the efficient cooks that they are, they learned that if they soaked and boiled extra black-eyed peas (more beans = same amount of time and effort as fewer beans), they could use them in different recipes. It was black-eyed pea surplus that led them to whip together this salad.
The world is big, and when our mom emigrated from Greece in search of a better life, she could have ended up in several places; in particular, the United States and Australia already had a significant number of Greek immigrants that she could have joined. Circumstance however, had her dock in Nova Scotia. From there she travelled to Montreal, where she settled, worked, and raised enough money to travel back to Greece to marry our dad, and to then return back to Canada with him. In those early years, our parents sponsored several of their siblings and they too made their way across the ocean. It was in Montreal that most of their children were born and their families raised.
We love our city. It has a rich history (some of it controversial) and in fact, Montreal is currently in the midst of celebrating it’s 375th anniversary. It is an energetic place, with a European influence evident in the architecture, art, food, and people. Although it is officially a bilingual city, with French and English being the two official languages of our province of Quebec, that description is a little simplistic. In fact, Montreal is a great multicultural and multilingual metropolis, with waves of new immigrants from all corners of the world arriving and enriching our city. There are so many obvious reasons to love Montreal (you should come visit!) and yet, there is one great reason which is often overlooked, or cursed. The weather. That’s right…the weather! It can be horrible, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Whether or not you like eating beets, you have to admit that they are some of the most beautiful looking vegetables out there…or actually, under there; beets are root vegetables whose bulbs grow underground. In any case, although the most common type of beet is the deep red variety, there are a number of other vibrant colours, such as orange, yellow and red candy-cane striped beets called chiogga beets. Nature is truly marvelous.
Although it is true that beets are beauties, there is so much more to them than meets the eye, and all of it is delicious. The bulbous portion of the beet plant is the beetroot (or the taproot) and the stems and leaves form the beet greens. Beet greens are often discarded, which is a shame because they are packed with flavour and nutrition. Our parents know this and would never dream of tossing these lovely greens into the compost or trash. In keeping with their philosophy of waste nothing, this salad incorporates both beetroots and beet greens, and is as pleasing to the palate as it is to the eye.