Tip: Salt and Drain Cucumbers and Zucchini

I have a thing for cucumbers. I love their watery crispness and the way they taste with a little salt on top. But I don't like how they can water down a whole salad with their extra moisture. Zucchini are similar; whenever I make a frittata or quiche with zucchini they have to be treated first to keep them from turning the whole thing into a soggy mess. Which brings me to this tip: when you are making a dish with cucumbers or zucchini, it really helps to salt and drain them first.
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I first noticed this tip in a recipe for a zucchini and potato frittata. It called for salting the zucchini ahead of time and draining them. I noticed the difference in the final frittata; it was firm and compact and not so soggy.

And then I decided to make a sour cream and cucumber salad for Easter. It is a very simple salad, prepared in a flash, but I was worried again about all that watery liquid. I wanted the salad to be creamy, not watery.

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So I sliced all my cucumbers, laying them down in layers in a bowl, and salting each layer lightly. Then I put two plates on top and covered the whole thing with plastic wrap. I left them in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning I poured off at least a cup of water! The cucumbers were still quite crisp and fresh — not rubbery at all. But the dressing stayed creamy and thick, not watery and soggy. (Watch for the full recipe later today!)

It's an easy tip I am going to follow from now on, even when just preparing cucumbers for a garden salad. They don't have to sit overnight, too; just an hour or so would help.

Do you do this with zucchini and cucumber, or with any other vegetables?

Related: Cucumber Primer: Kirby, Gherkin, English, and More...

(Images: Faith Durand)

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