We had a few amazing meals over Fourth of July weekend, one of which was a neighborly affair with two of our favorite people, Kate and Nate. Kate has a fun and ironic blog called If I Weren’t So Lazy…, where she wrote a nice post (with more pictures) about our experience.
I was in a cooking mood that day and ambitiously put a few things on the menu that took a bit more time than I had, remarkably I was able to pull off the most time consuming of them, Ratatouille. I’ll write about that recipe once I perfect the method, it turned out a bit too watery but still flavorful…tweaks will follow as it is one of my vegetarian husband’s favorite dishes.
BUT, this post I want to talk about a true go-to recipe. My Summer Cucumber Salad! My mouth is watering thinking about it and I’m chuckling a bit thinking of my mom hunting down the leftovers the next day. It’s the kind of salad that everyone enjoys and that after eating it, even the best cooks ask for the recipe. It is very eatable – it is fresh, yet hardy and so delicious even those reluctant to dish veggies on their plate take part in a healthy portion. This salad is GREAT to bring to potlucks and parties, it holds up nicely and has longevity over the length of a party, a good way to introduce vege without having the wilt problem you get with a leafy green salad. As a matter of fact, if you make it the night before, it tastes better the next day.
Without further ado….
SUMMER CUCUMBER SALAD
Notes about the ingredients: This salad is more about ingredients than technique (honestly, as a Californian, I rely heavily on the awesome ingredients available to me, they often deserve more credit for a delicious meal than my ability to cook them) For the cucumbers I specify using European cucumbers that are easy enough to find, often they come cello wrapped in the produce department. I like these because they are sweeter and virtully seedless, feel free to use Persian cucumbers which are harder to find, yet often pop up at farmer’s markets, they are equally delicious. If you choose to use the more prevalent English cucumbers, just remove the seeds. I usually use organic cherry tomatoes in this recipe, but any fresh, juicy tomatoes will work if you cut into one inch cubes, feel free to riff using orange or yellow tomatoes or a combination. Kalamata olives are generally available, sometimes in cans, jars or in an olive bar, make sure you save the juice! or, if you get these from an olive bar, put plenty of juice in the container, this ends of being a ‘secret’ ingredient of the salad. I’ve used crumbled feta in past but I love the succulence of block feta in water. Use a high quality olive oil fit for dressings. And organic ingredients whenever possible, especially veggies!
2 European cucumbers, large (3-4 if you use English, 3 ft. worth for Persian)
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
3/4 pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
1/2 cup Kalamata olive juice
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
8 oz. Greek style feta (cow, sheep or blend, block in water)
2 tblsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tblsp. olive oil
1 tblsp. dried dill
1 pinch sea salt if needed/to taste
It’s a salad, so making it is pretty intuitive, it’s mostly about prep time, give yourself 30 minutes.
Peel the cucumbers, chop into quarter round chunks, the thickness will work in your favor for longevity purposes, especially if you are making the night before. Half in the cherry tomatoes. Chop the onions. Chop the olives. Break and crumble the cheese. Combine ingredients in serving bowl as you go. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic, add olive juice. Sprinkle dill. Toss using tongs. Taste, add salt if needed. VOILA! Yummertastic. If you have time, chill.