Since childhood, I have always had a special affinity for cucumbers. Every chance I got, I would sneak out to Nonna’s garden to check on the progress of the cucumber plants and swipe one or two of best looking ones to eat on my way back to the house. Especially because we don’t get super-fresh local cucumbers year round, making a simple salad of cucumbers + (insert any vegetable here) is the best way to enjoy their natural refreshing flavor. Courtesy of my CSA, today’s choice vegetable was baby radishes. Crunchy and spicy, the radishes provide beautiful flavor and color contrast without overshadowing the cucumbers.
Tricks of the Trade (courtesy of my mother): To draw the bitterness out of a cucumber: slice off about a ¾ inch off the end of each cucumber and using a circular motion, rub the exposed ends with the slices. A white foam will appear around the edges; rinse it off and all of the bitterness will be gone.
Toss with chiffonade basil, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil (or a pesto vinaigrette) and your summer salad is complete.
Here are some of my favorite vegetables to make amazing cucumber salads:
Cucumber + Red & Yellow Heirloom Tomatoes
Cucumber + Chick peas + Celery
Cucumber + (thinly sliced) Red Onion
Cucumber + Raw Asparagus