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Meatless Monday: Cucumber, Dill and Rice Salad with Tofu “Feta Cheese” Brings a Splash of Summer Flavors

Dill HerbMost of us have a love/hate relationship with dill.  If you grew up on Scandinavian-inspired dishes, as I did, you no doubt have a fond appreciation for its distinctive flavors — I loved to feel dill’s feathery-soft leaves against my hand when exploring in my mom’s garden as a girl.  On the other hand, if your only association with dill is soggy, sickly-green supermarket pickles, then you might not be quite so keen on the herb.

Often overlooked, dill — from the Norse dilla, meaning, “to soothe” — possesses surprising characteristics.  Among its little-known superpowers are antibacterial and calming properties; the annual herb can be made into a stomach-soothing tea. Dill has been popular since Biblical times, and is even mentioned as a valuable commodity in the Gospels: “You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.”

Traditionally used in food to season fish or as a balance to yogurt’s tanginess, dill can also be used to brighten this protein-rich, vegan-friendly, summery rice salad.

While this recipe isn’t destined for a haute cuisine award, it will score points for its ease of preparation, burst of summertime flavor, and use of leftover rice. An added bonus?  Lima beans recharge your body’s store of the element molybdenum, which works wonders in detoxifying from harmful sulfites.

Cucumber, Dill,  & Rice Salad with Tofu “Feta Cheese”

1 c. frozen lima beans
1 t. dried thyme

To begin, cook the beans.  In saucepan, bring water to boil. Add dried thyme.  Add lima beans, lower heat. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, drain.  Set beans aside to cool. (If you are in a hurry, you can place the beans in the freezer while you continue preparing the dish.)

Next, prepare the faux feta cheese. Add a dash of oil to the bottom of the now-empty saucepan.  Heat until shimmering, then add —

1 c. coarsely-crumbled firm tofu

Cook the tofu under it is golden-brown and just starting to get crisp on the edges. Meanwhile, combine the following ingredients.

1-2 c. chilled leftover rice ( Have you tried the fragrant jasmine thai hom mali variety?)
1 c. chopped cucumber

To make the simple dill dressing, whisk together

1 T. unseasoned, gluten-free rice vinegar
1 T. oil
1/2 t. dried dill weed (if using fresh, use 1-2 Tablesoons chopped)
generous amount of sea salt, and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix together the rice/cucumber mixture with the chilled lima beans.  Toss the dill dressing over the ingredients until well coated.  Place the tofu “cheese” on top…and serve!

Image via Jurek D. on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

4 comments
  1. Chris

    Nothing beats fresh dill. I’d opt for fresh there and with the thyme. It would seem as if the fresh dill could easily overwhelm the thyme if fresh wasn’t used too. Nakano makes a gluten-free rice vinegar.

  2. Joey

    Hi Gina-

    How right you are- I completely have a love-hate relationship with dill! If you liked the rice salad you’ve written about here, you might want to try our Brown Rice al Fresco Salad from the Meatless Monday recipe archive (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/recipe_more_070423.)

    Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. We provide the information and recipes people need to start each week with healthy, environmentally friendly meat-free alternatives. Our goal is to help people reduce your meat consumption by 15% in order to improve their personal health and the health of the planet.

    I love that you’ve started doing Meatless Monday and Wheatless Wednesday posts. We here at Meatless Monday are well aware of the presidential tradition of conserving resources in times of need. Check out this article about the history of Meatless Monday: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/dyk_theoriginalMM

    or watch our youtube rallying Obama to continue the tradition:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpnKeYmR1NM

    I’d love to communicate with you or MaryGrace directly so that we are better able to collaborate our efforts. My email is jlee@mondaycampaigns.org. Please let me know if you’d like to be in touch.

    -Joey Lee
    Executive Assistant
    Meatless Monday

  3. Gina Munsey

    Fabulous, Joey! I’ve sent an email to you. Thanks!

    Chris, good point on the fresh dill and thyme. I don’t always have it available, wish I did! And I love Nakano vinegar….

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