Monday, July 11, 2011

When Life Hands You Cucumbers

I LOVE gardening. There's nothing like eating vegetables that you picked yourself out of your own garden. However, it's often hard for me to keep up with the bounty, especially the Zucchini, which seems to grow faster than I can pick it.
This year, however, it's not just the Zucchini going gangbusters out there, but a new culprit...Cucumbers, and lots of them!
I picked five of the beauties yesterday, and there's still six more out there!
So, what to do, you ask???????
Actually, I knew right away: When Life Hands You Cucumbers, Make Cucumber Salad!

This is a German-inspired cucumber salad with a few little tweaks that I added. Sweet, savory, cool and refreshing, this is a perfect accompaniment for everything from pork chops to burgers to crabcakes, or simply as a snack on a hot day.

Cucumber Salad with Sweet Onions

Sweet Onions
- 1/2 c fennel, sliced thin
- 1/2 vidalia onion, sliced thin
- 1/4 c apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1/4 sugar
- splash of pickled beet juice
- 5 whole cloves

Cucumber Salad
- 3 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin
- salt
- 1/2 c white vinegar
- Ground Mustard, Ground Thyme, Black Pepper, Caraway Seed
- Fresh dill, chopped

Usually this salad is made simply with red onions, but I had a better idea. Instead of red onion, I had Vidalia onions, and took the opportunity to add some complexity to the salad's simple flavors.
In a small saucepan I briefly cooked the fennel, just to soften it a bit, then added the vinegar, sugar, beet juice and cloves, brought it to a boil and then poured it over the sliced onions into a jar. I let this sit for a day before I made the salad, to let the color and flavor soak into the Onions.Next day, I sliced the cucumbers thin, tossed them with salt and let them drain in a collander for 20 minutes. Then I rinsed them with cold water, patted them dry and put them in a bowl and topped with chopped dill. In a small saucepan I heated the vinegar with the seasonings until the sugar was dissolved then removed from heat to cool. When the liquid is cool, pour it over the cucumber, stir and let marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, stirring occasionally before serving. Ten minutes before you want to serve, remove the cloves from the onions, strain, toss them with the cucumbers and enjoy! (Will keep in the fridge for a few days)

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