Cucumber salad

Fall’s here. Have you ever known someone who just enters and exits as he or she pleases, but you know them well enough to not be offended by the abruptness of the change? Fall is like that unpredictable friend. Every September I find myself hoping for an Indian summer, and sometimes the days are long and warm but sometimes winter cuts in a few scenes too soon — robbed of the luxury of one last picnic, one last BBQ. Before you know it, we’re captured by frost and condensation, shivering inside and staring out the window at what used to be.

But before I fall into melancholy for the next four months of winter, the last gift summer gives us is the end harvest. You’re carrying more zucchini than you and all your friends and family wish to consume, and it’s grilled zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini chocolate cake, vegetable soup … you get the idea. The funny thing about too much of one perishable ingredient is how to hide it so that the people you’re cooking for no longer recognize that they are, yet again, eating it! It’s about being creative with the resources you have.

Then we have cucumber. I find that there is a smaller variety of cucumber recipes because cooked cucumber is not the same as fresh. If you’re cooking something, there are multiple ways and multiple results. But for many, the idea of cucumber is raw and fresh and cold — much like the bare minimum of a beer. Cucumber beer, imagine that! (Which, by the way, is popularized in Japan thanks to this peppy Anime video.) How many ways can you eat raw cucumber, keeping the cool crunch refreshing?

In searching for a cucumber recipe, I came across Tastebook, a collection of recipes from magazines and websites like Epicurious (formerly Gourmet), Allrecipes.com, Bon Appétit, and others. I like Tastebook because you can search across several sources on one website, and the app also allows you to browse by categories (my favourite is “Only 5 Ingredients”), view the full recipe, create a shopping list, and save favourites. If you wanted to put all your recipes into a cookbook, they’ll help you with that too.

From Tastebook’s reservoir of recipes, I made this cucumber salad, simply sliced, dressed lightly, and maybe just enough to bridge summer to winter.

Cucumber salad recipe (adapted from Gourmet)

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tsp grainy mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Thinly slice cucumbers, and set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk well.
  • Combine cucumbers into the bowl with dressing, mixing and coating the slices.
  • Let cucumbers stand in marinade for at least 2 hours.
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