Tuesday, July 28, 2015

CCC ~ Marinated Cucumbers, Couscous Salad with Herbs & Walnuts, and New Potato, Green Beans & Olive Salad

New Potato, Green Bean and Olive Salad...

Welcome to another month of fun and adventures in the kitchen! July is here, and that means it’s time for this months edition of the Cottage Cooking Club. This group, led by Andrea of the wonderful Kitchen Lioness blog, is cooking through River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall. The book is divided into seasonal sections, and Andrea provides a list of recipes from each section of the book. Then we, the members, get to decide which of these recipes we’d like to prepare. And if you’re especially energetic, you might choose all of them. For me it’s usually two or three! 

What I love best, about picking recipes from this book, is that they are considerably healthy, easy, and fit into my everyday busy lifestyle. This month I chose Couscous Salad with Herbs and Walnuts, New Potato, Green Beans and Olive Salad.  Also, because my cucumbers are growing faster then I can keep up with...The Marinated Cucumber with Mint. 
I really enjoyed all three of these dishes but, my favorite was the New Potato, Green Beans and Olive salad! It was a winner all around and, my hubby loved it! What’s not to love? The olives add a nice touch of flavor.  

My favorite of the month….this was a great side dish…full of flavor, and scrumptious! 
The Marinated Cucumbers with Mint was the easiest to prepare, and extremely fresh tasting…I will be making both of these all summer long. 

Marinated Cucumbers with Mint
This was a delightfully fresh salad…with cucumbers just picked from my garden
The Couscous Salad was my least favorite. It just didn’t seem to have as much flavor as I would have liked. That was my fault for not adding all the spices. Bill didn’t enjoy this one at all! My plan is to give it one more try, adjusting the spices and ingredients more to our liking.  

Couscous Salad with Herbs and Walnuts

Not my favorite…I played with the spices without trying it the way it was written…so “my bad”. I will make this again, being more true to the recipe. Loved the addition of the toasted walnuts.

Marinated Cucumbers with Mint 
This is really a non-recipe. It was quite refreshing made with just-picked cucumbers from my garden. The cucumbers are young and not waxed, so I didn’t peel them. I halved them lengthwise, scooped out the seeds, and then sliced them kind of thin into half moons. They then get tossed with cider vinegar, olive oil, and a small handful of finely chopped mint. Add a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper and let them rest for 30 minutes. I couldn’t wait the 30 minutes…I ate mine after 10 minutes and they were delicious! 

Couscous Salad with Herbs and Walnuts
Recipe from River Cottage Veg by the author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Serves 4

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
7 oz whole-wheat Israeli couscous
A bunch of flat-leaf parsley
A handful of chives, chopped (optional)
A handful of tarragon, chopped (optional)
3/4 cup of walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Put the cumin and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan and toast over medium heat, shaking the pan often, for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip into a mortar and, when cool, grind with the pestle to a powder. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the frying pan and saute the onion, celery, fennel, and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until softened but still with a bit of bite. Remove from the heat and add the ground spices and lemon zest.

Cook the couscous in salted water following the package instructions. Drain well and mix with the onion and spice mixture. Allow to cool.

Stir in the lemon juice, herbs, walnuts, and plenty of salt and pepper. Before serving, add more oil to lubricate the couscous to your taste – you might want a little more lemon juice, too.

New Potato, Green Beans and Olive Salad
Recipe from River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall 

1 pound/ 500g small new potatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 ounces/ 200g green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch / 4cm lengths
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly slivered
2 ounces/ 60g pitted black olives, very coarsely chopped
A good handful of basil, shredded
A generous squeeze of 
lemon juice

Cut the potatoes into 2 or 3 pieces each. Put them in a saucepan, 
cover with water, add salt, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Simmer for about 8 minutes, until tender, adding the beans for the 
last 2 or 3 minutes. Drain well and return to the hot pan.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook very gently for a couple of minutes, without letting it color. Add the chopped olives and cook for a minute more. Remove from the heat.

Tip the oil, garlic, and olives into the pan with the potatoes and beans. Add the basil, a generous squeeze or two of lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. Toss together and serve warm.

Potatoes and "deconstructed pesto"
Omit the beans. Heat the garlic in the oil, as above, then toss with the drained potatoes and loads of shredded basil (a good bunch), some lemon juice, and plenty of slivered or finely grated Parmesan, hard goat cheese, or other well-flavored hard cheese.


  1. That potato, green bean and olive salad looks wonderful! I can't wait to give it a try.

  2. Kathy, they all look great. I just purchased this book, (not joining in) but after seeing all the delicious recipes
    being posted, I was really interested. The first one that caught my eye was the potato, green bean and
    olive salad. Now that I see your results I am definitely going to try it. Your other two recipes look
    so refreshing for this time of the year.

  3. Hi Kathy! I love these salads! Especially love these potatoes, look amazing!!

  4. All those salads look so delicious! I must try that marinated cucumber...so crunchy and delicious.

  5. Kathy! I too made the couscous with herbs and walnuts instead of the summer version! just because I like walnuts! Sorry, you did not quite fancy it. Which mint did you use for the cucumber dish? Looking forward to August at CCC!

  6. Melissa and I loved the New Potatoes, Green Bean and Olive Salad as well, Kathy. The olives were a hit with us. And, the slight bit of dressing was delicious. Nice to have a potato salad that didn't include Mayo. I seem to like cucumbers in every way, shape and form so I liked the easy, easy, easy cucumber relish also. The only herb sitting in a pot on my balcony that is going gangbusters is Mint so I went overboard when I added it but it still was good. I don't quite have Balcony gardening working for me yet!!! Do you remember making Dorie's Chunky Cukes? Sorry the couscous wasn't a hit. Maybe next time. This was a fun month of cooking with CCC - like you, I love these easy, healthy recipes. And, the servings are usually small, for two, and that is really nice. Happy Summer.

  7. Hi Kathy, your dishes for the month look lovely. I too enjoyed the green beans, new potatoes, and olives, a similar dish is enjoyed at my house enjoying that Provencal style combination. Your cucumbers look fresh and delicious, I do like Hugh's version with the addition of olive oil, reduced sugar and the mint I thought contrasts the flavor nicely. Sorry the spice selection didn't work out for you though these type dishes overall work well with many combinations even using spices and herbs that suit individual tastes. Another fun month, happy to see you on CCC. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

  8. Kathy, they all look gorgeous! That green bean/olive/potato salad looks fantastic--I made it too and agree that it's delicious! Glad that you're able to enjoy your garden bounty with some of these recipes! Hope the remaining July days treat you well!

  9. I just had a potato salad that included sweet potatoes and had an olive oil based dressing. It was superb as I imagine this is!

  10. All of your dishes look beautiful Kathy. I made a few of the same recipes this month. The green bean and potato salad was among my favourites and I loved the freshness the mint brought to the cucumber salad (so jealous that you can pick them from your garden). I'm looking forward to next month's recipes.

  11. I don't like couscous salad either. Here in Sicily we have the most delicious pork couscous. That panna cotta looks delicious. I love rice pudding, my favorite is Indian kheer.

  12. Hi Kathy, I thought about the potato salad but decided not to in the end, wish I did now. I did the couscous salad but did the summer version using quinoa and really loved it. Another great month!!

  13. Such a great variety of salads, Kathy! My favorite one is the New Potato salad. I pinned it and I'm planning to make it soon! Also the Israeli couscous salad, and the refreshing cucumber mint salad is very impressive, and delish!

  14. Nice job, Kathy. I don't know why I didn't pick the potato salad, but I bought some baby potatoes today so I can make that one this week.
    I'm really missing cooking with the French Friday crowd. Hope you're having a great summer.