Salad days (and hockey) are kicking into high gear here in Chicagoland. My weeks are spent working at my paying job, watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and of course cooking! Fresh salads have always topped my list of summer cuisine and lately I’ve been experimenting with many different combinations using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Cherries, berries, watermelon, goat cheese, blue cheese, toasted nuts and fresh herbs from the garden. Soon enough corn and tomatoes will start appearing. Heavy dressings are out. Seasoned vinegars are in, along with concentrated glazes such as balsamic reductions and pomegranate molasses.
And then there is this lovely little salad which is just so perfect for the hottest of summer days. It’s cool and crisp, a little sweet and a little salty. I’m loving it with grilled seafood or chicken or just plain by itself. It’s that good!
Speaking of hot summer days, I see my outdoor thermometer is reading 75° at 9:00 am and the a/c just kicked in. That means I need to step away from the internet, get some sun tea going and head to the garden. Happy summer Chicago (…and GO HAWKS!)
Cool as a Cucumber Thai Salad
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large English cucumber (about 12 oz)
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 cup dry roasted salted peanuts, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Additional chopped cilantro
In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt and boil gently over medium heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar and salt. After about 2 minutes, when the syrup is clear and slightly thickened, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Peel the cucumber and slice lengthwise in quarters. Slice these strips into 1/4 inch thick triangles.
In a bowl, combine the cucumbers, cooled vinegar mixture, onion, and cilantro and mix well. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.
Use a slotted spoon to serve into individual dishes. Sprinkle servings with the chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves.