Cucumber Salad

Lately it’s been difficult figuring out what exactly to post. In the past when that’s a problem it’s because I’ve been making a string of duds. You know the type- food that’s fine, but not worth being immortalized online. Or even worse, food that’s objectively bad. But in the past few weeks it’s been tough because I’ve made a lot of things that are good. Objectively good. But they don’t feel like they belong here, for a variety of reasons.

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There was this crumble, for example. I made it out of a rabid, borderline primal desire not to waste food, and ended up bringing it to the first trivia night I’ve done in months. (Incidentally, we were  slaughtered. It was brutal.) It was an immensely tasty crumble. But it was so born out of fridge cleaning that I wasn’t sure if I could properly write the recipe. Who wants to read a recipe where the ingredients include “the salvageable parts of four wrinkly peaches”, “about a handful and a half of rye flour”, and “maybe 4 tablespoons of butter? The stuff hanging out in the back of the fridge”. If you’re interested in recreating this, take all the fruit in your fridge that’s close to going bad and cut into similar size pieces. Toss all this fruit in a handful of sugar and a sprinkle of cornstarch. Top with a combination of rye and all-purpose flour, oats, chopped walnuts, brown sugar, and melted butter. Bake at 350ish until the fruit starts to bubble up.

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Then there was Ashely Rodriguez’s kimchi and cheese dip I brought to a 4th of July cookout. It was delicious and decadent and maybe I should have posted it here. But I didn’t, because 1) It doesn’t really fit in with what I try to do here, 2) It’s not the type of food I typically make, and 3) I didn’t adapt the recipe at all and am not comfortable posting recipes that I don’t make changes to. But if the sound of kimchi and cheese dip has you salivating, here’s the recipe. (You may want to make it for a party, because it makes a LOT of dip.)

I made (and did not photograph) Anna Jones’ amazing warm kale and tomato salad for dinner about a week ago. I though about sharing the recipe here, and maybe I would have. I roasted the kale and tomatoes a little too far, but the salad is so good it deserves a permanent spot in my rotation and absolutely earned a do-over to make it more photogenic. I have, however, referenced her cookbook A Modern Way to Eat more than any other cookbook I own, and thought maybe I should lay off it a bit (in eager anticipation for the stateside release of her second book this August). But you, who have no such problem, should absolutely make this salad, and Sam Sifton of the New York Times thinks so too.

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Last week Aaron and I went camping. I, being the wifely person that I am, made granola bars from Sara Copeland’s Feast to supply us with breakfast. We ate them the morning after a dinner of brats cooked on spits and potatoes baked straight in the fire. The bars were very good- sweet but not saccharine, and full of wholesome ingredients perfect for eating next to a tent. But we had a cooler mishap after our breakfast which resulted in soaked granola bars, and after careful consideration I figured out that I was not finished tinkering with the recipe.

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And then there’s this cucumber salad. I’ve been leafing through my cookbooks recently looking for inspiration, and made this one out of curiosity. I can always find a reason not to post something. I hadn’t taken a proper picture, for one, and I’ve posted a lot of salads recently. I brought the salad to a friend’s house because I wanted to try it out. Despite not being quite snack food it was demolished. It was the first thing gone among a sea of various chips and dips. And that’s reason enough to post it- that it is utterly delicious.

Cucumber Salad

adapted from Near and Far by Heidi Swanson

This cucumber salad is light but filling, fragrant and fresh. A variation that Heidi suggests uses cilantro in place of the kale, which would be incredible if you like cilantro.

Serves 4

2 medium cucumbers, sliced in half, seeds removed, and thinly sliced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped kale
12 ounces tofu, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
3 stalks of lemongrass, stiff outer layers removed, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped Brazil nuts, toasted
1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

In a large bowl combine together the cucumbers, onions, kale, and tofu. Set aside.

In a small pot over medium heat combine the lemongrass, rice vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and red pepper. Let the mixture cook, stirring frequently, until the brown sugar dissolves, about a minute or two. Let cool for 5 minutes, then toss over the cucumber mixture. Stir well, and let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary- mine needed a sprinkle more salt.

To serve, drain off the residual liquid and top with the Brazil nuts. Give the salad a good drizzle of lime juice, and serve with more lime wedges, as desired.

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2 thoughts on “Cucumber Salad

  1. I know just what you mean about making food that is not quite blog worthy. I have had my fair share of that. And I had to laugh at your recipe for the crumble. I usually take notes when I am cooking something that I think might end up on the blog, and the first version usually looks something like that 🙂 That cucumber salad looks so refreshing too!

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