18 June 2013
Cucumber shallot salad with rice wine vinaigrette
So we've covered picnic sandwiches. Now, how about salads?
My picnic salad criteria are pretty simple: I want to eat a lot of delicious vegetables, preferably with a similarly delicious dressing. So when I checked out the crisper for salad components, I discovered a beautiful cucumber, just waiting to be loved. Perfect!
Typically, salads with cucumber include iceberg lettuce, thick chunks of cucumber, and fat wedges of watery tomato. If you're so unlucky as to be eating this salad at a restaurant, you might be inundated with stale croutons and shredded fake cheese as well. Obviously, this is not the way to go. Instead, let's take that cucumber and make it the star of the salad. Let's slice it thinly and get rid of those watery seeds. Let's shower it with intense shallots and dress it in a delicious tangy dressing. Let's eat it.
This salad has two components: vegetable and dressing. For optimal time management, you'll want to slice and drain your cucumbers, make your dressing while you wait, and finally combine everything together.
Cucumber shallot salad for two
1 large cucumber
rice wine vinaigrette
If your cucumber is waxed or tough-skinned, peel it. Otherwise, you are totally free to keep the peel on and eat it.
Slice your cucumber in half vertically. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon; throw them in the compost or your freezer stock stash. Cut the remaining cucumber into thin crescents.
Toss your cucumber pieces with a sprinkling of salt, put them in a strainer, and let them drain for about a half hour. This will drain off some of their natural moisture and keep your salad from being watery later.
Now is the time to make your vinaigrette.
When your cucumber pieces are drained, put them in a bowl. Cut your shallot in half, and from there into fine slices. Separate the slices into fine shreds and add them to the cucumbers.
Toss your vegetables with a couple spoonfuls of vinaigrette. Use as much dressing as you prefer.
Let your salad rest for at least a half hour before serving. This gives the vinaigrette a chance to soak into the vegetables and pickle them slightly. It also gives you a chance to pack your salad into a container, stick it in your picnic basket, and go off on the excursion of your choice. Just don't forget the forks!
Rice wine vinaigrette
1 tbps rice wine vinegar
1 tsp hot Chinese mustard
juice of half a lime
1 minced green onion
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp veg oil
salt & pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together with a fork, adding the veg oil in a steady stream at the end for optimal emulsification. Use to dress your cucumber shallot salad.
Keep any leftovers in a jar in the refrigerator, and shake before using. I found this to be just about as delicious on plain greens as it was on cucumber and shallot.
Eat your salad, either with egg salad sandwiches (obviously that's what we did) or with the other picnic entree of your choice. If you like, you can add a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds or gomasio to your salad after serving.
What are your favorite ways to eat cucumber?