Salads

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We have lots of cucumbers right now. We didn't grow them, but we've got them (thanks to one of Mr. Eats's customers). So many that it was time I did something other than just make pickles. Other than just slices to eat with hummus. So I settled on this cucumber salad.

cucumber_onion_salad

It's quite a southern tradition to have cucumber salad (that is, in parts of the south on the east side of the Tennessee river, it seems) all through the summer. Most of them are very simple and easy to make. This one's no different, but I changed it up a bit by adding the dried dill as well as a little white pepper. Both are optional, but I think the dill, in particular made this salad really great and refreshing.

This is a salad you make ahead and eat at least 12 hours after it's been prepared. It's even better several days later. It's not quite like pickles, though because the vinegar hasn't completely permeated the cucumber and onion (and is not heated first), but it has just enough so that the onion is soft and a bit milder than raw but the cucumbers are still crisp. The recipe I have here is for use with a 1 1/2 quart container because that's the biggest I had available.

Cucumber & Onion Salad
10-12 servings

2 large cucumbers
1/2 large white onion1/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup white vinegar
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon white pepper (1/2 tablespoon black pepper)
1 tablespoon dried dillweed (not seed

Wash and dry the cucumbers. Using a peeler, remove portions of the skin horizontally so that the cucumber is striped. Cut off each end, slice lengthwise and again to quarter the cucumbers. Then cut the quarters into 1/2 inch thick chunks.

Wash and dry the onion, cut in half and then cut into 1-2 inch long slices about 1/2 inch thick.

Alternate layers of cucumber and onion in a 1 1/2 quart container with a lid.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, stir and pour into the container with the cucumber and onions. Stir just a bit to combine.

Refrigerate overnight or at least 8-12 hours and serve cold.

2 Comments

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The time that the wild asparagus, French breakfast radishes and all my other spring favorites show up at the farmers’ markets. I usually buy up every bunch of asparagus and radishes I see and, of course, after a while I get a little burned out on sauteed asparagus and radish toast. So, necessity being the mother of invention, I came up with this salad and I loved it. I ate it three days in a row and didn’t get tired of it.

With the radish and the arugula, this salad’s got a lot of peppery taste going on. The asparagus and pine nuts balance it out, though and the lemon vinaigrette pulls it all together. Adding a little feta or crumbled goat cheese makes it even better. We ate this salad as a main course (with some Twin Forks Farm Expedition bread) and there was plenty left over for two more salads.

spring_salad_asparagus

Spring Salad with Asparagus, Radish and Lemon Vinaigrette
serves 4-6

1 bunch asparagus
½ cup pine nuts
2-3 French breakfast radishes
1 bag fresh arugula, cleaned

Lemon vinaigrette
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon dijon or spicy Chinese mustard
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Wash and pat dry the asparagus and remove woody ends. Cut into 2 inch pieces and roast at 400F for about 3-5 minutes until slightly tender. Toast pine nuts for 1-2 minutes in the same oven and watch carefully, ensuring that they don’t burn (cook until fragrant). Thinly slice the cleaned radishes and set aside.

To make the vinaigrette, put all ingredients in an airtight container and shake vigorously.

Combine arugula, asparagus, and radish slices into a bowl and toss with vinaigrette. Top with pine nuts. Add feta or goat cheese if desired.