About this time of year we start having cucumber salads almost every night with dinner. The cucumbers are growing a bit out of control in the garden, climbing up the tomato cages and all over the zinnias that line the raised beds. Every other day I bring in a handful, peel them and chop them up for a simple salad consisting of nothing more than the cucumbers, some rice vinegar, either dill or basil, and salt and pepper. You don’t even really need the herbs; cucumbers are crunchy and cool with just some vinegar, salt and pepper. But added dill or chopped fresh basil will elevate this simple cucumber salad to something just a bit more interesting. I like adding a mix of regular basil and Thai basil (the one that tastes somewhat licorice-y).
Cucumbers can vary in their level of bitterness. Usually the older the more bitter, and the seeds are often more bitter than the flesh. Once you cut into a cucumber, taste it. If bitter, scrape or cut away the seeds. You might also want to soak the chopped cucumber in salt water to help offset the bitterness. The cucumbers we get are usually fine as is, but I have had some bitter ones. With regards to peeling, we almost always peel our cucumbers, but there are some varieties with thin, mild peels that you don't need to peel. Taste first if there is a question.
- 1-2 large cucumbers (or 4-5 lemon cucumbers), peeled, quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
- 1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, basil, or Thai basil*
- 2-3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
*To chop the basil, chiffonade it by stacking the leaves on top of each other, rolling them up like a cigar, and taking thin slices from one end to the other.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss to coat. Serve immediately, or make ahead (up to a couple of hours) and chill.