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Archive for July 31, 2013

RECIPE: Thai Cucumber Salad

Following on the heels of cucumber water, here’s an easy recipe for a delicious cucumber salad, Thai-style. Serve this crunchy, low-calorie side with just about anything.

While European cucumber salads tend to use cider vinegar and lots of fresh dill, the Thai twist uses rice vinegar and some heat: Thai chiles if you like things really hot, jalapeños or less fiery chiles if you don’t.

If you can find Thai basil, by all means use it; it’s a lovely purple color and a bit stronger in flavor than conventional sweet basil. Add as much or as little onion as you like.

Olive oil is not a conventional ingredient in Thai salads, but it cuts the heat of the chiles.

THAI CUCUMBER SALAD RECIPE

Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 4 tablespoons sugar*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 2 medium green onions or one small sweet onion
  • 1 medium green or red jalapeño chile
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Thai basil or other basil, chopped
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Optional garnish: chopped peanuts
  •  

    We love the flavors of Thai cucumber salad, shown here with fiery Thai chiles. Photo courtesy TrialX.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the sugar, salt, vinegar, optional olive oil and water together in a medium bowl; whisk until dissolved.

    2. THINLY CHOP the green onions on an angle, using as much of the green stem as you like. Add to the dressing mixture.

    3. SLICE the jalapeño or other chile lengthwise; remove the seeds and ribs if you want less heat. Thinly slice and add to the dressing mixture.

    4. PEEL the cucumbers; slice lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1/8″ slices. Add to the vinegar mixture along with the basil and optional cilantro. Combine all ingredients well,

    5. REFRIGERATE and marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Serve chilled, topped with optional peanuts.

     
    *While sugar offsets the heat of the chile, this is a lot of sugar. You can cut it in half, or use a lower glycemic alternative such as 2 tablespoons of agave nectar. We’ve also used a noncaloric sugar substitute.
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cucumber Water

    Toss cucumber slices into a glass or a pitcher
    of water. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    When life gives you cucumbers, you can make cucumber soup, cucumber salad, add cukes to green salads and grain salads and make pickled cucumbers (that’s “pickles” to most of us, although any fruit or vegetable can be pickled).

    You can make cucumber sandwiches or tea sandwiches (with butter and watercress, please!), add slices to wraps and summer rolls, mix diced cucumbers with yogurt and cottage cheese (and some fresh-cracked pepper). TIP: Instead of adding lettuce to a sandwich—or in addition to it—add thin cucumber slices.

    You can get fancy with cucumber-wrapped sushi maki (called a naruto roll) or use cucumber slices as the base for goat cheese, tartare or other canapés.

    And you can drink your cucumber: puréed into a juice or cocktail base, as a garnish in a Bloody Mary or Martini or other drink.

    In fact, the easiest thing to do with a cucumber is to make cucumber water. If you’re a cucumber fan, you’ll love it: refreshing, flavorful and virtually calorie free.

     

    CUCUMBER WATER RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • Cucumbers (any kind)
  • Water
  • Optional: lemon slices, fresh herbs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WASH cucumbers. You can leave the peel or remove it, especially if the cucumber is waxed.

    2. SLICE cucumbers to desired thickness.

    3. ADD optional lemon slices to make cucumber lemon water.

    5. ADD to water. It infuses almost instantly.
     
    CUCUMBER WATER IN A PITCHER

    A pitcher gives you the opportunity to infuse fresh herbs into the water as well. We particularly like basil or rosemary, but experiment with your own favorites.

    You can keep a pitcher of cucumber water in the fridge for a day or two. After that, the cucumber will start to go bad, so drink up!

      

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