Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad

I am a big cucumber fan — the type that will take a bite straight from a whole cuke - but you don’t have to be to enjoy this salad.

Smashed Cucumber Salad is a Chinese side dish, and I’ve adapted that dish into a recipe I can make any old day. The salad base is still just cucumber (a GREAT way to mix it up when you’re in a salad rut). The dressing is where the rubber really meets the road here. You could use this dressing on other salads, too — but I never have leftovers 😁

The perfect balance of salt, acid, and sweet: rice vinegar, soy sauce, and honey come together here. I haven’t yet watched Salt Fat Acid Heat (or read it), but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a dish that balances all of it’s flavors well. What do you think — should I jump in and watch the show?

Either way, this dressing is golden. Garlic and chili flakes add punch. Cucumber is plain and simple; but simple is just right with the dressing.

Smashed Cucumber Salad
Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad

Published April 2, 2019 by
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Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 50 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 2-3 english cucumbers 
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes 
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or white sugar)
  • 3 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger juice or minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce 
  • Garnish: 1 tablespoon minced cilantro, 2-3 small sprigs of mint (optional), lime wedges (optional)

  • Directions:

    1. Slice ends off of cucumber, and slice in half the long direction. Lay halved cucumbers seed-side down on a cutting board. Roll a rolling pin over cucumbers, smashing them just until the start to crack. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
    2. Place cucumber in a bowl and generously sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
    3. Place avocado oil, garlic and chili flakes in a small sauté pan and warm over medium heat until garlic begins to sizzle. Stir occasionally, and allow garlic to turn golden. Remove from heat.
    4. In a jar, combine honey, rice vinegar, ginger juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, and the chili-garlic oil. Stir (or close jar and shake) to combine.
    5. Toss cucumber in dressing. Top with minced cilantro, and optionally garnish with mint and lime wedges. Serve.

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    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette

    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette

    Not everyone is a fan of truffle — it’s one of those love/hate flavors, where people seem to fall on one side of the fence or another. And I freaking love it. Truffle oil is just this magical extra oomph that takes something from normal to "oh this is amazing.”

    Like many good things, the trick is not using too much. If you’re about to eat truffle oil by the spoonful you should buckle up — that would be a LOT in one bite! In this vinaigrette, truffle oil is combined with olive oil which makes a salad dressing with just the right amount of truffle.

    In a rush, and throwing together a salad to take with me to work, I’ll often just drizzle some oil and vinegar over top of some veggies and call it good, but when I actually take the time to make a real vinaigrette it makes such a big difference (and, you can keep a jar of this dressing in the fridge for a week: time saver!).

    But this vinaigrette isn’t just any old vinaigrette…yes, it has truffle oil, but there’s more! More, in the form of:

    • Dijon mustard. It adds a bit of creaminess and the flavor of mustard is nice and sharp, adding just a tiny bit of punch to the vinaigrette

    • Shallot. Like mustard, shallot just adds a bit of extra zing. Shallots are like onions but way more mellow, and won’t leave your mouth with that “I just ate a plate full of red onion” flavor

    • Salt & Pepper. Easy peasy — but does make a difference.

    If you’re feeling extra fancy, you could add a teaspoon of minced fresh rosemary, thyme, or basil. A dash of red pepper flakes is perfect for anyone that likes a little extra heat.

    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette
    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette

    Like I said above, I like balsamic vinaigrettes (with or without truffle) on almost any salad, but here are five I recommend:

    1. Spinach salad with butternut & figs

    2. Late fall salad

    3. Arugula, peach and piquillo pepper salad

    4. Winter salad with kale apples

    5. And of course… a simple caprese salad, or like in the video below, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella over arugula. YUM!

    If you don’t see the video player below, click here to watch, or scroll down for the full recipe.

    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette

    Published February 7, 2018 by
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    Serves: 8   |    Active Time: 10 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons truffle oil (look for an olive oils infused with truffle)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine.
    2. Drizzle over salad of choice.
    3. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.

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    Wild Rice Salad with Pomegranate & Satsuma Mandarins

    Wild Rice Salad with Satsuma Mandarins

    Two delicious fruits are currently in season: Pomegranates and Satsuma Oranges.

    When I was a kid my dad would buy pomegranate as soon as it appeared in stores. Back then the fruit wasn’t “cool” and no one was talking about how it was a good source of antioxidants. In fact, I would take it to school for lunch and other kids would ask, “What is that?” (I got that a lot — I always had the most “interesting” brown bag lunches.) I’ve adopted my dad’s habit, and hop on pomegranate season as soon as the fruits look bright and red and juicy. I put them in salads (like this one with kale and delicata squash or this one with brussels sprouts) and add the juice to smoothies. My favorite is my dad’s Pomegranate Sorbet (!), but this wild rice salad is a a healthier way to enjoy the flavor.

    Wild Rice Salad with Satsuma Mandarins
    Wild Rice Salad with Satsuma Mandarins

    When it comes to citrus fruits, I’ve never been the biggest fan — it’s not that I don’t like oranges, there are just other fruits I like more. BUT during citrus season, when everything is at it’s peak and you can find blood oranges and ruby red grapefruits and mandarins… that’s when I get on board. Satsuma Mandarins are the best, aren’t they?!

    These two fruits together sing winter to me — they are a pop of fresh in an otherwise dull season, little gems in this wild rice salad.

    Wild rice, by the way, is another key here. It’s nuttier than white rice and gives this salad great texture and flavor. Either use leftover rice or cook the rice ahead of time. You can do this in an Instant Pot (affiliate link!) by placing 1 cup water and 1 cup wild rice in the pot and setting it to High Pressure for 28 minutes, and then allowing the pressure to release naturally.

    The whole thing is tossed with arugula (which is why it can be called a salad 😏). The bitterness of the greens are a good balance to the sweetness of the fruit and nuts. Add toasted pecans on top of that, and every bite is a combo of nutty and fresh and savory and sweet.

    Wild Rice Salad with Satsuma Mandarins

    Wild Rice Salad with Pomegranate & Satsuma Mandarins

    Published January 10, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled wild rice (leftover rice does great!)
  • 3-4 Satsuma Mandarins, peeled
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate perils 
  • 3/4 cups toasted pecans
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • For the vinaigrette:
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Make the vinaigrette: Add all ingredients for the vinaigrette to a jar. Close jar and shake to combine.
    2. Assemble salad: In a large salad bowl, combine arugula, wild rice, mandarins, pomegranate perils, and toasted pecans.
    3. Drizzle vinaigrette over rice salad to taste, adding additional salt & pepper to your preferences. Toss and serve.

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