Recipe: Armenian Cucumber Salad
I don’t know about you, but in my neck of the woods Armenian cucumbers are a rare, seasonal treat so whenever I spy them in my Mystery Box, I start to get a little happier. Long and skinny, with natural two-toned green stripes, these ‘cucumbers’ are technically a variety of melon and can usually be found in farmer’s markets or, if you’re lucky, in your CSA. If this isn’t the case, start asking for them because they are amazing–sweet, thin-skinned and extra-crisp. For a very simple and delicious recipe, read on.
I did two versions of this salad: one was normal, where all the ingredients are tossed together and one was a fancy-schmacy composed plate because I was inspired by the pretty ingredients and wanted to show them off. The art-school-dropout version inspired me to add black mustard seeds purely for the visuals but it turns out they taste good, too. All this is to say that this is the prefect dish to have a little fun if you’re up for it.
In my experience, Armenian cucumbers have never needed peeling or de-seeding, so you can add that to the list of their virtues. If all you have are regular cucumbers, you can still make this salad. Just peel them if they are bitter and de-seed them if the seeds are well-developed.
Regarding the garlic: you want it to disappear into the dressing, so if possible, use a garlic press or microplane to completely crush it.
Armenian Cucumber Salad
serves 4 as a side dish
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 small cove of garlic, crushed
healthy pinch of salt
1 Armenian cucumber, thinly sliced, about 2 cups
1/4 cup thinly sliced red pepper*
2T finely diced red onion
2T finely diced yellow pepper
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)
Combine cider vinegar, water, sugar and garlic in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir and remove from the heat when the sugar is fully dissolved. Add a pinch of salt and let cool.
Meanwhile, toss all the remaining ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. When the dressing is cool, pour over the vegetables; you may not want to use all the dressing if you prefer a drier salad. Toss and serve right away. Also, since the salad improves with sitting, it’s fine to do this up to several hours ahead of time.
Alternatively, carefully lay out the cucumber slices on four white plates. Sprinkle on the red and yellow peppers and the red onion. Follow with the dried dill and black mustard seed. When dressing is cool, drizzle over the vegetables and serve.
* I used another wonderful Mystery Box treat for the red pepper in this recipe: the red piquillo pepper which is a nice blend of juicy-sweet and slightly hot. You can substitute all red bell pepper or a combination of red bell pepper and something with a little heat, like a red jalapeno.