Monday, June 9, 2014

Cucumber Salad just screams, "Summer!"


Another dish that brings back summer days is cucumber salad.  If you remember our post on coleslaw, the debate was vinegar vs. cream-based dressings.  Cucumber salad is much the same premise.  Slice the veggies really thin, then let them marinate in a dressing overnight.  If you found a dressing that works for your coleslaw, then by all means repurpose it for cucumber salad!  I will say that, in my experience, cucumber salads have more add-ins beyond cucumbers than coleslaws do beyond cabbage.

My go-to cucumber salad is one my mom used to make, and it uses some of the fantastic spring onions that were also in last weekend's box.  Slice both the cukes and onions very thin.  I use a mandoline, and it gets the job done in a real jiffy.  A word of caution:  The blade of a mandoline is incredibly sharp.  Never, ever, ever, *EVER* use it without either the included safety guard, or a kevlar glove.  Trust me on this, I have had several trips to the emergency room while learning to use my mandoline and I don't want you to have the same problem.  And isn't that what always gets them on Top Chef? After slicing your veggies, take some dill weed from your herb pots (how are they doing, by the way?) and chop that as well.  So you have:

The dressing is simplicity itself:  

a little squirt of olive oil,
a few tablespoons of white vinegar (to taste), 
salt & pepper, 
and a little water. 

 Put it in a sealable container, shake it up, and let it seep in the fridge overnight.  This is something you'll find in my refrigerator pretty much continuously from now through September or so.

One raging debate about cucumber salad is whether or not to remove the seeds.  I find that when they're sliced thin, you don't have to.  If your recipe calls for more chunky pieces of cucumber, then you probably want to slice it the long way and scoop out the seed compartment with a spoon.  Cukes can definitely be enjoyed skin-on, but in salads I usually peel them.  Pickling cukes, though, traditionally have a thinner skin and are just fine left unpeeled. You don't just have to turn them into pickles! When we just cut them up and serve them at the table with a sprinkle of salt, my 5-year-old loves "stripy" ones (peel half the skin off, leaving a striped pattern along the cuke.)

Have you found any good dressings for cabbages and cucumbers?  I've made this one with tahini (you can find it at most upper-end grocers) which is really interesting.  Here's a creamy one on my list to try with our most recent cache of cukes.  Of course, the ultimate cucumber salad dressing is tzatziki sauce.  This tuna salad has cucumbers in it too, making it really refreshing for lunch on really hot days.

Please share any of your favorites in the comments section!

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