Cucumber Season

So this week has seen the first cucumbers from my garden’s vines. I don’t have enough yet to make a batch of pickles, so I’ve been experimenting with various salad recipes instead.
cucumbers!

The basic idea for this first recipe came from my neighborhood message board. I made a couple small alterations and the end result was delicious. It’s light and fresh and perfect for a summer lunch.

a few cucumbers (2 or 3, depending on size)
1 small red onion sliced thin and cut into 1 ” pieces
10 mint leaves, thinly sliced
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
1/4 lb of feta cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:
In a medium size bowl, toss together the sliced cucumbers, onion, mint leaves and sprinkle in a little olive oil and vinegar. Add the salt and pepper and toss to coat. You can do this the night before, marinating only makes it taste better.
Right before serving add the crumbled bits of feta cheese.

This second recipe is based on a salad one of my local sushi bars serves you if you sit at the counter.

A couple of cucumbers, diced.
about 1/4 pound surimi (fake crab sticks) shredded
1/2 avocado, sliced thinly
approx 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
a drizzle of sesame oil
tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (you can leave this out if you don’t like them)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all in a big bowl, refrigerate for an hour. enjoy.

Next up is the traditional “Island Salad”, which is really nothing more than equal parts tomato and cucumber, diced, then mixed in with 1/2 part red onion, sliced thinly. Toss in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cilantro (some people like dill) and salt/pepper to taste. I like to make a big bowl of this and just have it in the fridge for those super-hot summer afternoons. A batch will keep for about 4 days.

Last but not least, this is my version of a thai beef dinner salad. It can be made with tofu, but the tofu must be as firm as possible.
This is one of the few ways I use beef these days.  Because so little goes so far, you can splurge on happy, small-farm, free roaming cow meat and not break the bank.

1 large cucumber, diced.
1/2 red onion, cut into small pieces
a couple green onions, sliced thinly
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced very thin. (or use about 1/2 tablespoon of dried lemongrass)
approx 1/8 cup fish sauce
the juice of two limes
a handful of fresh cilantro, cut finely
1/2 pound really good beef

Sear the beef in a skillet with a tiny bit of sesame oil, leaving the center rare. Remove from heat and let rest.
Combine the diced vegetables, cilantro and lemongrass in a large bowl. add the fish sauce and lime juice.
Cut up the beef into very thin strips, add to bowl and toss together. refrigerate while you cook some jasmine rice.
Serve the cold salad over the warm jasmine rice with a garnish of thai chilis and mint leaves.

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