Grilled Vegetables with Mint Yogurt Sauce

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From the moment I sat down at my friend’s table and tried her mint yogurt sauce, I’ve had a container of it in my own fridge. She will be glad to know that I have finally written down a recipe for myself so I can now stop texting her many times asking, “Okay, one last time, I promise. What did you put in that yogurt again?”

It’s remarkably simple, really. One would think I would have remembered the ingredients the first time I asked since it’s only yogurt, rice wine vinegar, dried mint, garlic, cayenne and salt. You guys, I’m telling you, it’s the dried mint. I hadn’t used it before except when brewing a cup of mint tea and now I am finding myself tucking it into everything.

Dried mint is deeper, darker than fresh. The flavor is not as bright and zippy and mouth cooling as you expect from mint. It still is refreshing but it is also woody and somehow heartier. All I know is that it turned yogurt into a sauce that I have not been able to stop making since the moment I had it. The flavor grows with dried mint so this sauce does well after a rest in the refrigerator.

I started this month in need of inspiration. Feeling a bit ho-hum about food, I wanted something to ignite my passion so it would send me flying into the kitchen again. Of course I also started the month attempting to pack up my kitchen and put it in boxes so that made cooking a bit more difficult. But now we are getting settled and I’m feeling eager to bound into the kitchen. I’ve spent the last month filling my fridge with seasonal produce, plucking fresh berries from my adopted garden and stretching myself to try new things. Caraway on my avocado toast? Yes. Grilled corn finished in a smoked paprika spiced butter? Absolutely. Caramelized Fennel with dried orange peel?! Oh my word, yes. I’m dreaming in food again. Literally, last night I dreamt of my next book idea and I am so excited to starting putting thoughts to paper and see where it will lead.

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So much of this inspiration is thanks to my partnership with Frontier Co-op. I’ll be honest I get squirmy and weird when I come here with a sponsored post, afraid of my work being seen as not my own because there is someone else gently nudging the post. But, I needed this nudge. I’m thrilled with what I created as I found myself reaching for the spice cabinet more often than normal and always happy that I did. I hope you all were inspired along with me. I’ve been posting my creations on Instagram all month so you can go check that out there and also check out the #SpiceUpSummer hashtag for more ideas.

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*This post was sponsored by Frontier Co-Op but as always, the recipe, words and photos are mine.

 

Grilled Vegetables with Mint yogurt

 

Serves 6 to 8 as a side

 

16 ounces Labneh (or full-fat Greek Yogurt)

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons dried mint

1 garlic clove, minced

Pinch cayenne or red chili pepper flakes

Pinch salt

2 eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

2 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

3 red peppers, cut into 1-inch strips

1 bunch scallions, cleaned

2 fennel bulbs, tough core removed and cut into wedges

olive oil

salt & pepper

Yogurt: Combine the Labneh with the rice wine vinegar, dried mint, garlic, cayenne and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust seasoning.

The flavor improves dramatically after a few hours or even overnight, in the fridge.

Vegetables: Generously coat the vegetables in olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill until charred in parts and tender.

Feel free to use whatever vegetables are in season and available.

Serve warm or room temperature with plenty of the mint yogurt.

 

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Couscous Salad with Fresh Cherries

Couscous Salad with Fresh Cherries // Not Without Salt

Over the next week I have three recipes for you that will make your summer barbeques the most popular on the block. They aren’t what you would call “traditional” barbeque recipes but that is perhaps what I like most about them. And since next weekend (it being the 4th and all) is pretty much the grill’s favorite holiday then it looks like that perhaps for once in my blogging career I may be ahead of the game for a holiday.

It’s a couscous salad studded with fresh cherries, toasted almonds, a zippy pomegranate molasses vinaigrette and quite green due to the amount of fresh herbs. Oh and there’s feta, if you’re in to that sort of thing. It has the freshness of a more traditional salad but the pleasant heft of a pasta salad. It sits beautifully next to grilled meat and vegetables (more on that soon).

If tradition is more your style when it comes to barbecuing for the 4th then still consider this salad. For your next picnic maybe? It’s an ideal candidate as it does beautifully waiting for you in the fridge or lingering in the picnic basket while you play games or dip your toes in the sand.

Let’s call this recipe a guide rather than a map to be followed strictly. Perhaps you’d like more zip, than you’ll need more than 1/2 a lemon. Are fresh cherries not around yet? Dried would slip in their place nicely. I used toasted marcona almonds but you could use regular almonds, pine nuts, pistachios – you get the idea.

Couscous Salad with Fresh Cherries // Not Without Salt Couscous Salad with Fresh Cherries // Not Without Salt

 

Couscous Salad with Fresh Cherries

Serve 6-8 as a side

 

3 cups Israeli couscous

1/4 cup Pomegranate Molasses

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cherries, pitted and quartered

1 cup (4 ounces) marcona almonds

1/2 red onion, diced

1 1/2 cups, packed fresh parsley and mint leaves

1/2 cup crumbled feta

 

Cook the couscous in boiling water that is seasoned with salt and a glug of olive oil. Drain the couscous while it’s still al dente, about 7-9 minutes but each variety is different so continually check the doneness.

Rinse the couscous with cold water to stop the cooking then set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the pomegranate molasses, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add this to the couscous.

Mix in the cherries, almonds and onion.

Finely mince the fresh herbs and add those to the salad. Finish with fresh feta.

Taste and adjust to your liking, adding more salt or lemon juice if needed.

 

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