Outdoor dining calls for some tasty plant-based dishes
As rays of sunshine light up backyards and patios, many families are taking their meals outdoors to enjoy the weather. More time spent eating on the deck or patio calls for recipes that fit your al fresco theme, from plant-forward takes on traditional summer fare to platters and spreads that offer everyone something to smile about.
For a unique twist on the classic backyard burger, you can prepare fresh falafel burgers with cucumber sauce — a trendy way to rethink summer cooking while keeping flavor at top of mind.
If lunchtime or snacking in the sunshine calls for an even lighter dish, a Mediterranean platter offers an opportunity for stylish expression that can be prepared ahead of time. It’s a simple snack that combines vegetables, hummus, cheese and pita bread and encourages people to gather and socialize.
• ½ lemon, thinly sliced
• ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• 3¾ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 1 cup diced tomato
• 1 cup diced English cucumber
• 1 tablespoon diced dill pickle
• 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
• 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
• 1½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
• 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
• 3 cups hummus
• ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
• 1¼ cups pitted mixed olives
• 6 pita breads, warmed and quartered
• In a bowl, mix lemon, ¼ teaspoon salt and sugar. Cover and chill 2-6 hours. Dice lemon. Mix diced lemon and ¼ teaspoon olive oil. Cover and chill.
• Mix diced lemon, tomato, cucumber, pickle, green onion, parsley, vinegar, 1½ teaspoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and chill.
• Lightly oil grill rack and heat grill to medium. Mix pepper, asparagus, remaining oil and remaining salt.
• Grill asparagus 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Let cool. Cover and chill.
• Set a large serving platter on work surface. Place hummus and tomato salad in small bowls.
• To assemble, place larger items on the platter, then arrange smaller items around them. Group pita in several small stacks next to bowls. Arrange feta and olives in the remaining space.
Falafel burgers with cucumber sauce
• 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and coarsely grated
• 2 cups plain full-fat Greek yogurt
• ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 small cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons dried dill
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2-3 tablespoons water
• 2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
• ¼ cup sesame seeds
• 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
• 1 red onion, halved and sliced
• 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 jalapeno, sliced
• ¾ cup chickpea flour
• 4 teaspoons ground coriander
• 4 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 6 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
• 4 buns
• Lettuce (optional)
• Tomato (optional)
• Place grated cucumber in a clean dish towel. Roll dish towel around cucumber and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
• In a bowl, mix cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, oil, garlic, dill and salt. Stir in 2 tablespoons water, adding more as needed until mixture is smooth and creamy. Cover and chill.
• In a food processor, cover and process chickpeas and sesame seeds until mixture is finely chopped. Transfer to bowl.
• In food processor, cover and process carrot, onion, cilantro, garlic and jalapeno until finely chopped. Add vegetable mixture to chickpea mixture. Add flour, coriander, cumin, salt and black pepper; mix well.
• Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape chickpea mixture into four patties. In a skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook patties 3 minutes, or until golden brown on bottoms. Turn over and cook 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Transfer patties to baking sheet.
• Bake 20 minutes. Let patties cool 15 minutes. Place patties on buns and top with lettuce and tomato, if desired. Drizzle with cucumber sauce.
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