After making the staff lunch the other day, and testing out a cucumber salad recipe, I knew it was something I wanted to try again soon. A few gigantic cucumbers in the CSA bin I received this week sealed the deal, and this delicious recipe was born. Just in time for the sweltering heat of summer, here is a refreshing idea for a cold salad that is easy and fast to prepare.
Cucumber Orange and Raisin Salad
Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 large cucumbers (or 3 medium cucumbers!)
10 fresh mint leaves
10 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup raisins
1 large orange
1 tbsp ume plum vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
black pepper (to taste)
Directions: Start by finding a cucumber that is at least a foot long.
Just kidding! :) But seriously – how gigantic is that cucumber!?! Take your cucumbers and cut them in half, then stand each half up on its end and cut into quarters, so that you have 8 quarters total.
While there is nothing nutritionally wrong with cucumber seeds, they are usually removed for prepared salads because they create a lot of goop and mess, which clearly you don’t want. A fun trick for de-seeing cucumbers is to use a melon baller – just scoop out balls of seeds and goo one by one, until you have a clean cucumber shell.
Once your cucumbers have been de-seeded, cut them into thin slices and place into a bowl.
Next, go ahead and chop up your fresh herbs – basil and mint. Chop these nice and fine so they are distributed well throughout the salad, and add them to the bowl with the cucumbers.
More chopping – this time it is raisins. This is another trick I use when I want a really flavorful meal without adding a ton of extra calories. For some ingredients like raisins, they pack a TON of flavor, but they are also relatively high in calories. I measured out 1/4 cup of raisins, which probably only amounted to 15 or so (they are very plump). But rather than just having 15 raisins floating around this big bowl of cucumbers, I chopped them very finely so that their intense flavor and sweetness is distributed through as much of the salad as possible.
This trick can be applied to any ingredient that is high in flavor, but also high in calories. Other examples are nuts, olives, and sun dried tomatoes. With these strong flavors, a little goes a long way, and mincing them guarantees you’ll get a little bit in every bite.
Toss the raisins into the cucumber bowl, and cut up your orange segments. This is easiest to do if you CUT the peel (and pith) from the orange, rather than peeling it the way you would for a snack. With the peel and rind cut off, use your knife to cut out each orange segment, and then chop into smaller pieces. Give the leftover middle section a squeeze over the bowl to release the rest of the yummy orange juice into your salad.
Do a few clicks of freshly ground pepper over your salad, and then go ahead and make the dressing. I finally found this ume plum vinegar at our specialty health food store, and I was very surprised at how SALTY it was! No extra salt needed in this recipe!
Combine 1 tbsp each of the ume plum and balsamic vinegars, and whisk together with 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and other ingredients, and stir well to combine and coat.
This salad can be served and enjoyed right away, or refrigerated and cooled in order to let the flavors marinate and intensify.
Absolutely delicious, and quick and easy to make! This would be a creative and healthy side dish to take to a cookout or party this summer.