August Breakfast Salad

Okay, so I know that tomatoes and cucumbers are so late July everywhere else, but go easy on me. I live up in northern Minnesota, okay? On the tip of the tundra. Tomatoes are just starting to turn red here. Honestly, this far north, I feel lucky the tomatoes ripen at all.

When they do, I try to eat them daily, and definitely for breakfast. I have been known to salt the cut side of a tomato and face-plant it on hot buttered toast, but this is even better: I add some cucumbers, which are still pumping, and serve this breakfast salad with a lovely flavored yogurt taught to me by a Bulgarian woman who was stranded here in this northern town for a couple of years. Her husband was a doctor here. She had deep-set round eyes and dimples. Her daughters both wore their hair in ringlet curls down to the backs of their knees. And she made this garlicky yogurt with crushed walnuts and dill and talked about living in Sofia, Bulgaria, as if it were another heavenly planet. Her mother, working alongside her in the kitchen, just nodded and diced the tomatoes which were so ripe they leaked their juices all over her cutting board.

Make the savory yogurt first:

1 cup plain full-fat yogurt, such as Stonyfield or Fage

2/3 cup toasted walnuts (toasted in the oven or in a pan with olive oil and butter), half of them crushed to bits

1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for the salad

1/2 clove garlic, finely grated

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

salt and pepper to taste

squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Combine the yogurt, the crushed walnuts, olive oil, garlic, dill, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a bowl and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning.

For the cucumber salad: 

1 pound cucumbers, 5 kirby-type, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks

8 ounces ripe tomatoes, a mixture of beefsteak and cherry, cut into bite-sized cubes

a handful of thinly sliced onion

salt, pepper, olive oil, squeeze of lemon, all to taste.

Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, a thin drizzle of olive oil and toss to combine.

To serve, plate a nice swoosh of yogurt on the plate and pile the cucumber-tomato salad alongside. Garnish with some of the remaining toasted walnuts and serve immediately.

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