Refreshing, Light and Crunchy
Celebrate the end of summer with Cucumber Salad
BY MAGAZINE COO MARGO MAIER-MOUL
Cucumbers are often mere afterthoughts in a tossed salad, invisibly blended into gazpacho, or cut into strips and ignored with the celery as an ‘eat it because it’s good for you’ snack.
OK, so it’s true – cucumbers are good for you – a good source of Vitamin A, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium. They’re also frequently sited for their use as a natural remedy for dry skin, sunburn or tired eyes.
But we’re featuring cucumbers because of how much we enjoy them. You may not have had the opportunity to notice them in their supporting roles, but as the star of a recipe, they just plain taste great!
Tossed lightly with seasoned rice vinegar and a whiff of toasted sesame oil, cucumbers are the perfect summer food: refreshing, light and absurdly simple to prepare. We like to put this cucumber salad together when we spontaneously bring home dim sum for lunch, or as a bright side dish to roasted vegetables or Smash.
Peel it? Salt it?
Most conventionally grown cucumbers are “waxed” to ensure a bruise-free arrival in the market, so if you’re buying conventional, you’ll at the very least want to scrub them well, and probably remove the peel. With an organic cucumber, let your personal taste be your guide. “English” cucumbers are usually wrapped in plastic for protection and do not need peeling.
Many cucumber recipes call for salting the sliced cucumbers and letting them drain from one to three hours. The reason is so the dressing doesn’t become watered down, and the vegetable retains maximum crunchiness. I personally am not troubled by the liquid in the bottom of my salad bowl and find this to be an unnecessary step.
Cool as a Cucumber Salad
1/2 small red onion
Seasoned rice vinegar *
Toasted sesame Oil *
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Sesame seeds for garnish
Peel and Slice Peel (or don’t) the cucumber, and then slice it. Slices can be thick and chunky, or thin and delicate, you decide. Dice or slice very thin the red onion, as much or as little as you like.
Dress Add a just a few drops of toasted sesame oil (a little goes a long way!) and sprinkle with seasoned rice vinegar.
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Note: Feel free to substitute plain rice vinegar for seasoned, or plain sesame oil for toasted. The flavors will be milder.
This is one dish we don’t fuss with too much, because its beauty is its utter simplicity. However, here are a few ideas:
- Add some sliced cherry tomatoes
- Add chunks of feta cheese
- It’s almost Greek Salad now: in addition to tomatoes and feta, add olives, oregano, and dress it all with olive oil and red wine vinegar
- Make it “Midwestern style” (thanks to Scott Moon for this suggestion) by using cider vinegar and omitting the oil.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.