Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cucumber Sesame Salad

Ever since Lemonade opened up near my work, we've made it a semi-regular lunch spot. Essentially they have a lot of items to select from that you pick and choose to make up a meal. I almost always go for the salads. Most are pretty simple, without too many ingredients, but they are very fresh. There's lot of citrus flavors, crunch, a variety of vegetables and no creamy ranchy-sauces. Inspired by my lunches of little piles and a variety of salads, I started doing this at home. I find the process of making salads for dinner to be relatively fast since you aren't cooking much, nice in the summer when you don't feel like turning on the stove, refreshing and a good way to highlight flavors. There are a few salads from this particular photo, but I am just going to talk about the cucumber salad today (the green & orange one on the left).

Cucumber Sesame Salad; a few servings depending on appetite and number of veggies included
Crunchy, light. versatile and a perfect snack, none of this salad has ever gone to waste in my home. All quantities are approximate and should be adjusted according to taste and the ingredients you have on hand.

3 medium Japanese cucumbers (or probably at least 6 Persian cucumbers or English cucumber with the seeds removed)
1/4 a cabbage
2 large carrots
sea salt
agave syrup
~2 tsps rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (black or white)
additions: green onion, garlic powder, ginger powder, soy sauce

Peel the cucumbers and deseed it, if using English cucumbers. Cut in half or quarters length-wise. Slice the cucumber into very thin semi-circle shaped slices, pretty much as thin as you can. Toss in a large bowl with a generous amount of salt (at least a teaspoon). If using cabbage, slice leaves as thinly as possible & toss with cucumber and a little more salt. Put a plate on top of the cucumbers and cabbage and place a heavy jar filled with water, canned goods, etc. on top to press the cabbage and cucumbers. Let it sit at least 30 min, but preferably an hour or more, stirring a couple times along the way and draining water from the bowl.

Towards the end of the pressing time, warm a cast iron pan and lightly toast sesame seeds. In a small bowl, prepare the salad dressing (if you are using cucumber, carrot & cabbage, I recommend making a bit more dressing than what is described, but adjust to your tastes.) Add a few teaspoons of the rice vinegar to sesame oil. Mix in agave syrup & spices like garlic or ginger powder to taste. If adding green onions or carrots, prepare them at this time. You can use a box grater or even just a peeler to shred the carrots and just cut the green onions into rings. Drain off all of the water from the cucumbers and cabbage. Add the additional veggies and the dressing to the cucumbers, mixing well. Taste the mixture, adding soy sauce if any additional salt is needed. Serve with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

This salad keeps in the fridge well. Just make sure to stir before serving. It will still be crunchy and flavorful after a few days!

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