Month of July: “Purple Citrus Sweet Perfume” Recipe: Smashed Cucumber, Mulberry and Pistachio Salad

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Audrey Hepburn

OK, I must confess. This recipe and this one only, I did make before. But it highlights so many summer flavors I just had to make it again to share. It’s the easiest thing to put together and it’s a beautiful salad to showcase the abundant cucumbers, dill and mint growing in the garden. For me, the ingredient that puts this over the edge is the pomegranate molasses. Please if you make this recipe do not eliminate the molasses! It gives sour and sweet contrast that makes this salad sparkle.

There is a national heatwave happening this week and things are growing fast in the fields and in our yards. I thought about my Garden of Eden that I had a few years back when we were living in the city. I miss that garden. Currently our very nice tenants enjoy it and that’s fine, realizing now it was a starting point for gardens to come. I learned volumes working on that postage stamp plot. We planted peach trees, cherry trees, currants, black raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, herbs and vegetables. It truly was a heavenly space. We hired landscapers to lay red brick out into a circular quad with pea gravel walkways. I grew cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, fennel, purple string beans, rainbow chard, mint, dill, basil, white eggplant, rhubarb, kale and arugula. We hauled in cement benches and hung whirligigs that spun in the wind. It was a labor of love and it makes me happy to know that Abby was able to see it on one of her visits. At that time, she had created a business painting silhouettes of birds and animals onto reclaimed barn boards that her son Chasca had collected. I asked her if she would paint a sign for the entrance of my garden which I called, Le Potager, or kitchen garden. And being the ever generous soul she was, she did! I still have it and it is hanging in my new garage, waiting for the next and hopefully final garden creation. Every time my eye catches sight of it, I smile. She will forever be remembered in my garden then and in ones to come.

Ingredients: 4 small Persian cucumbers peeled, 1/2 cup Greek style yogurt, 1/2 cup pistachios lightly toasted, 20 fresh mint leaves, 1 tablespoon chopped dill, sea salt and pepper, 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, 8 fresh mulberries, blackberries or black raspberries

Place cucumbers onto a large board and using a rolling pin smash them into large chunks. Put the broken pieces into a large bowl with the yogurt, pistachios, mint and dill. Gently toss to combine and season. Spoon into serving plates and drizzle with pomegranate molasses and top with berries.

Pomegranate Molasses: 1 quart bottled 100% pomegranate juice, 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice.

In a large uncovered saucepan over medium heat stir all the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for roughly an hour or until the juice has a syrupy consistency and has reduced to about a 1 cup. Pour into a jar and cool. Store in refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

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