This dinner was really about using up the last 4 mini cucumbers...I was originally going to make tzatziki, but chose to use them as a salad instead. I did use some of the plain Greek yoghurt to make a lemon-yoghurt sauce though, and when combined with the cucumber salad it was very much like eating tzatziki.
I also made a grape tomato and bocconcini salad (another 2 items used up), with fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and grilled asparagus.
I forgot to marinade the chicken breasts earlier on in the day, so I cut 3 diagonal slits in each one, about half the depth of the breast.
This worked two ways:
It helped the marinade penetrate and it also enabled the chicken to cook a bit quicker.
To make the marinade, combine:
Zest of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Rub the marinade onto the chicken breasts, making sure to include the inside of the slits.
Leave the chicken to marinade while you prepare everything else. I left mine for about half an hour before grilling it.
To make the cucumber salad, slice 4 mini cucumbers as thinly as possible.
Place them into a bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper.
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
8 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix well, taste and adjust seasoning.
Crumble feta cheese into the salad, and it is ready to serve.
To make the yoghurt sauce, combine:
Plain Greek yoghurt
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of olive oil
Mix well, and serve with the cucumber salad and the grilled chicken.
Cook the chicken on a hot, lightly oiled grill, until it is fully cooked.
Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve the chicken with the cold cucumber salad, passing the yoghurt sauce at the table. The brightness of the lemon and rosemary on the chicken was offset nicely by the cool cucumber and the tangy yoghurt.
- Cutting the slits into the chicken breasts is optional; it did allow the marinade to penetrate quickly as I had forgotten to marinade it earlier on in the day. If you are organized and can get it marinated, then cutting the slits could still serve two purposes if you choose to do it: it allows the meat to cook a bit faster, but it also looks more interesting on the plate, as the slits tend to spread open wider during cooking.
- Cutting slits into meat is a great way to introduce hits of flavour throughout...cut small slits into a roast and push whole, peeled cloves of garlic into them; cut slits into a pork tenderloin and push fresh herbs into them; cut fish in the same way before grilling, and drizzle with a flavoured oil or insert herb butter before baking.
- The chicken can be pan fried or baked.
- Instead of rosemary and lemon, try cilantro and lime; orange and tarragon; lemon and thyme.
- The cucumber salad is best the day it is made; the excess water in the cucumber starts to leach out and it becomes soggy. Salt speeds this up, so season with care if you are making it earlier on in the day. You can also omit the salt, and add it just before serving.
- Leftover salad and yoghurt sauce can be combined to make tzatziki...simply drain and then squeeze the excess liquid from the cucumber and add in minced fresh garlic to taste.
- Stuff warm pita bread with the cucumber salad and the grilled chicken (thinly sliced), add some chopped fresh tomato and top it off with the yoghurt sauce and you have an easy lunch made with leftovers from dinner.
- Regular sized cucumbers can be used...I happened to have mini ones. The cucumber can also be diced.
- A similar salad can be made by thinly slicing radishes; the yoghurt cools the heat of the radishes nicely. Other vegetables that can be thinly sliced and turned into salad include fennel, carrots, zucchini (use both yellow and green if you can) and beets. I usually use only lemon juice, fresh herbs and maybe a bit of olive oil to dress these salads. The juice and herbs help to highlight the natural flavour of the vegetable, but if you use too much it will be overpowered.
- Adding the feta cheese to the cucumber is optional; I wanted to add some texture and tang. Other cheeses can be used...blue, goat, fontina or asiago are all good choices, strong and sharp in flavour.