Friday, 24 July 2009

Cucumber Salad with peppers and poppy seeds

My goodness I feel like a stranger on this blog! Jackie has done such a fantastic job on the blog from Brighton, it felt I was down there eating all those yummy things too. I am sorry I have been away so long but I know you will all forgive me if I promise to do some posting to make up for it!

Algeria is incredibly hot at the moment. Yesterday it had reached 41 degrees by 10am. It is a little too hot for my liking although I know a lot of you would be enjoying the heat if you were here. I am avoiding being outside at midday, if only to avoid having to put suncream on! The evenings bring a breeze off the ocean and it is idyllic looking out over the bay of Algiers.

The heat tends to stifle your appetite; light, refreshing salads are all you can manage during the heat of the day. Ottolenghi came to the rescue at lunch today as only cucumber stared back from the fridge. (I am hoping to go to the big market tomorrow called Premier Mai to stock up on fruit and vegetables – I will take some photos!). This salad has been tweaked a little from his original recipe as I did not have all of the ingredients. Most importantly, it was tasty and simple. Perfect.

Cucumber Salad with peppers and poppy seeds
Serves 4
2 medium cucumbers*
1 long pepper
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs poppy seeds
Juice from ½ a lemon
Zest from 1 lemon
A handful of mint, roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper

Chop the cucumber at an angle into long lengths, about 1cm wide and 3-4cm long. Finely slice the pepper and add to the cucumber.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. I did use my hands as Ottolenghi suggested!

Season to taste and serve. If not serving immediately, the salt tends to draw out some of the liquid from the cucumbers. You might need to drain some liquid before serving it.

* If you can’t find the small, crunchy cucumbers which are typical of the Middle East and North Africa, scrape out the seeds of a normal long cucumber to avoid the salad getting too watery and losing that fresh, distinct taste.

On a separate note, I arrived here on Sunday and have so far managed to get through 3 books. What a treat! I can’t remember the last time I have been able to read so much for pleasure. Hopefully I will get through a mountain of books and then have some to recommend to you all.

I have just heard about an Algerian author called Yasmina Khadra – I am looking forward to reading one of the books over the weekend. This author is particularly interesting because Yasmina is the nom de plume of an Algerian army officer, Mohammed Moulessehoul. He has written Wolf Dreams and The Swallows of Kabul.

Hope you are all having a lovely summer.

Big hugs, Charlotte Xx

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