Posted: October 4th, 2014

Cucumber Salad: Basic, But Delicious.


Everybody has that one thing they bring to a pot luck situation.

My mother schleps both a watermelon carved to look like a basket and cherry kugel that no one likes and no one eats.  Ashley and Jessie always bring frozen fruit and cool whip — a disgrace made better by a presentation in a robin’s egg blue Tiffany Box – an inside joke that started a long time ago. Mine? Wine. (Duh.) At some point, I had to grow the fuck up. And bring something that showed I put some thought into it. Along with a bottle. Or two.

I find myself at parties where one needs a dish to cool things down (Sriracha Fest), balance out the luscious butter laden seafood (Lobster Bake) or cut through the fatty of eggs and cheeses of many varieties. Which is why I’m making this dish RIGHT NOW.

Cucumber Salad. Something my idiot peeps think it super complicated making me a Master Chef. But in actuality, I stole it from a 2008 Gourmet magazine article. Click the link for the full official recipe since I pretty much do whatever I want most of the time.

Yom Kippur is tomorrow. If you don’t know about this holiday, it’s the day where Jews suspend their obsession with eating and focus on NOT eating for 12 long hours. We traditionally host the ‘after sundown break fast’ for friendly Heebs and Gentiles alike. Bagels, Smoked Fish, Blintz Souffle and a kick ass Monterey Cheese Egg Bake round out my menu. The Carb and Dairy heavy meal is our reward for managing not to sneak Wintergreen Life Savers in the bathroom at holiday services.  But in my old age, I feel like we need some sort of green to go along with the fat.

You should make this the day before to give it some time to marinate and get tangy.

First Step. Buy Cucumbers. The recipe calls for two, I use three because Julie Alexandria eats them all. You want to use seedless cukes. These are English Cucumbers. (Do as I say, not as I do.) These are my go to long green things of choice because Fresh Direct brings them to me and I am lazy.

Go Big Or Go Home.

Go Big Or Go Home.

Next you slice them up. Sure, you can use a Mandolin but that’s something else you have to clean. I do my sections by hand and pretend I’m a ninja using a Hattori Hanzo Sword to make paper thin cuts.

I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword. If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut.

I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword.
If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut.

You may notice that my slices are not as thin as the ideal. Neither am I. This is because I am one shitty ninja. I think it’s ok to have slightly thicker pieces to stand up to the marinate. Throw them all into a colander & marvel the many uneven cukes. The texture in the salad will be more interesting. And variety is the spice of life after all.

Colanders, not just to wear for a hat anymore.

Colanders, not just to wear for a hat anymore.

Put three teaspoons (one TSP per cucumber) on top and shake it. Not QUITE like a polaroid picture unless you feel like cleaning a lot of stuff up. Sit in your sink. The reason we salt the cukes is to get some of the water out of them.. If you leave your colander on the counter, you will be cleaning up at lot of water. Leave for 30 minutes while you go get coffee and do THIS:

The three horsemen of the Cuke-pocalypse. 1/3 Cup Distilled Vinegar

1 (& a little) Tablespoon(s) of Sugar

3 Teaspoons of Grainy Mustard.

Gotta be GRAINY. Maille is the best, but other brands will do when you send your husband out for something you forgot.

Whisk it (or use the teaspoon you just measured with) to mix it all together. The vinegar will dissolve the sugar, the mustard will blend with the mixture and everything can hang out while you do a happy dance. Because you’re almost done.

Now is the short break where I share my everlasting love for the Viva Paper Towels. I do not care how much they cost. You can CHOOSE YOUR OWN SIZE which is as close to the ‘choose your own adventure’ book you can get in this 30-something kitchen bound life. And you won’t end up locked in a trunk in an alley in New Orleans like you always did at the end of those books.

Anyway, you want to squeeze out your cucumbers with the VIVA towel that will pick up all the water and moisture and whatever and will leave the veggies ready and begging for some dressing.

Viva la VIVA!

Viva la VIVA!

It’s really all done. You toss the suckers into the sugs \ vin \ mustard blend and you cover and chill. ProTip: Throw it all into a tupperware container of your choice and shake the shit out of that thing to make sure you are coating all the slices with the liquid. All of me, All of you, kind of thing.

You throw it in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but like i said, I like to do it the night before. This makes it more delicious, but also ensures you will not spill vinegar down the leg of your new silk track pants. This can happen sometime.

This dish is crazy easy. It took me longer to type all this crap than it did to actually make it. Make it for brunch, along side rich pork \ veal dishes, any kind of Thai feast or when you want to binge eat something healthy.

The real recipe will talk about draining the marinate and whisking it with olive oil and redressing it all and platting on butter lettuce leaves. I just serve it. I like it super tart and it’s perfect the way it is.