Guest Post by Kristen Smith
Though summer is winding down to a close, many of my garden plants are still in high gear. Even if you don’t garden, chances are the farmer’s markets and gardeners around you also have an abundance of some fresh, delicious homegrown vegetables!
I love taking all of the fresh vegetables I grow or buy and making simple meals during the warm months. Especially now as our family is getting back into the swing of homeschooling, simplicity in the kitchen is a real blessing!
This Mediterranean Summer Salad is truly one of my favorites. It’s an all-in-one meal that doesn’t heat up my small kitchen and uses some of my favorite garden vegetables and herbs. Whole grain rice and protein from convenient canned tuna and fresh mozzarella round out the salad.
It’s also a very frugal meal. The vegetables grow well in my garden, so it doesn’t cost our family much at all. But even if you have to buy them, tomatoes and cucumbers are inexpensive this time of the year.
- 4 cups cooked and cooled whole grain rice (I use a combination of brown and wild rice, typically leftover from meals like my [url href=”http://smithspirations.com/2015/02/salmon-rice-cakes-with-easy-variations/” target=”_blank”]Salmon & Rice Cakes[/url])
- 2 slicing cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced (peeled if the skin is bitter)
- 2 medium slicing tomatoes, cored and cubed
- 1 cup chopped fresh herbs, loosely packed (I use a scant 1/2 cup of mixed basils and chopped parsley each, plus a few sprigs of thyme, stripping the leaves)
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 cans tuna in olive oil
- 1 lb fresh mozzarella, cubed
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T. balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon quality sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- Combine vegetables, rice, herbs, tuna, and cheese in a large bowl and gently combine thoroughly.
- Drizzle oil and vinegar over top, then sprinkle on salt and pepper. Mix and combine again.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. This can also be mixed up the night before serving.
I actually prefer to mix this up a few hours before serving. I think it tastes better. But it’s also really delicious and refreshing served up right away!
Another great thing about a dish like this is how easy it is to customize it to your family’s preferences. Try some of these ideas!
- Make half the recipe for a smaller family. For our large family and to take to potlucks, I make the full amount.
- Substitute some or all of the cucumbers with summer squash or broccoli, or red peppers for tomatoes, or switch out some of the herbs for others like chives, cilantro, or even mint.
- Use chopped, cooked chicken or steak instead of canned tuna, or use cooked beans.
- Try a different vinegar, like apple cider.
- Add extra vegetables, like shredded carrots or thinly sliced spinach.
- Kick it up a notch with a generous pinch of cayenne pepper.
Seasonal, frugal, simple, and quick… that’s a hard combination to beat!
How do you like to use up seasonal vegetables?
Kristen Smith is a Christian, wife to her high school sweetheart, and homeschooling mom to some sweet little people. She’s an herbalist, real food enthusiast, and coffeeloving optimist. Join her at Smithspirations, where you can find encouragement for your heart and inspiration for your family’s wellness. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.