Weeding is a major time-consuming project for gardeners. Often, the weeds are pulled up and added to a compost. Still, others reach for herbicides to get rid of weeds. Not all weeds, however, are intruders to vegetable gardens. Some weeds are protectors. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, Purslane is not only an edible weed with nutrients comparable to iron rich spinach, but also, as I have learned, it is an excellent ground cover for corn. Dill weed is another plant protector. It improves the growth of cabbage, and adds favor to cooked cabbage. Its seeds improve the taste of cole slaw, bread baking, and dill pickles would not exist without them.
Purslane and Dill are weeds I use in my cooking to enrich my culinary repertoire of plants-vegetables. Recently, a fellow community gardener has given me two Japanese cucumbers in exchanged for some summer savory – another important herb I will talk about later. This 9” long, 1” in diameter cucumber has small white spines on its otherwise, smooth deep green skin. This same gardener has mentioned his love for dill. Talking with him has trigger my creative juices and has inspired me to combine dill, purslane, and cucumber. Although this salad is Greek in its origin where they use mint leaves, this combination of dill and purslane makes it another flavorful and crunchy treat.
When cooking and eating, textures are important to me. So, this salad requires more preparation to get the desired texture, but let me assure you the few extra steps are well worth it. The crunchiness of the purslane makes this salad recipe a keeper. The use of fresh dill has added another dimension to this salad.
In the past, I have used twice as much fresh herbs to get the same favor as dried, the exact ratio has remained a mystery for me. So, what is the secret? It is simple: 3 teaspoon fresh herbs to 1 teaspoon dried herbs says Susan Westmoreland. Still, I often find 1 tablespoon of fresh to 1 teaspoon of dried adequate for my taste. Keep in mind there are some dishes when substituting dried herbs for fresh are disastrous such as making pesto: fresh basil, pinenuts, garlic, olive oil, and salt blended together. (Pecans, or walnuts are excellent choices instead of pinenuts, but more about this recipe later).
There is one “gourmet” ingredient in this recipe–“French Champagne Vinegar by Beaufor.” Champagne vinegar is an important ingredient in many of my recipes from salad dressings to brined vegetables (two other recipes I will share here in the near future). Enjoy!
- 2 Japanese cucumbers (about 1 1/2 lbs) skinned and halved lengthwise.
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Olive oil
- 1 Slice of red onion chopped
- 2 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbed
- 3 Tablespoons fresh dill weed (or 3 teaspoons dried)
- Pepper to taste (three twist of the pepper mill)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Salting cucumbers: Remove seed from each cucumber half using a small spoon.
- Slice cucumbers on the bias into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.
- Toss slices in kosher salt and place into a colander to drain.
- Place a gallon size plastic bag filled with water ton top of the cumbers to weight them down to force out the liquid.
- Let stand for a least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
- Mix champagne vinegar, olive oil, garlic clove into a medium size bowl
- Add cucumbers to liquid mixture, toss and serve.