Have you hopped on the smashed cucumber bandwagon yet? If you’re one of those people who is always up on the latest trends, then you’re probably thinking”this is so old”, but if you’re like me, someone who always is just a couple of steps behind what’s “in”, then maybe you too thought smashed cucumbers was the name of some new heavy metal group! Ha ha! Nope folks, apparently, smashing cucumbers is a foodie thing. And once you take one bite of this crunchy, sort of pickle-y but spicier, Asian-flared salad, you will pronounce it a good thing tool Especially when it comes straight from the pages of The New Essentials Cookbook: A Modern Guide to Better Cooking by the people behind America’s Test Kitchen. Let’s hear it for the first Famous Fridays of 2019!!
Over the last few years, America’s Home Kitchen has been churning out some terrific, very user-friendly cookbooks ranging from everything from a primer on vegan cooking to a book entirely devoted to Mexican fare to slow cooker specialties. This new book focuses on updates to the classics like lemon herb roast chicken and beef stew that are maybe a little bit lighter and more in touch with the way people eat or are trying to today and newer recipes that are a little more out there like Miso Marinated Salmon with Sesame Sushi Rice and 100% Whole-Wheat Pancakes that destined to become classics too. Every recipe is clearly explained and there’s also an all-encompassing section in the beginning of the book that details cooking techniques, ingredients etc. I know we’ve just put the present-buying season behind us, but this would be a great gift for a beginner cook or anyone who wants to spice up their everyday routine. A perfect example is this smashed cucumber salad. Cucumber salad is not new (check out my grandma’s recipe) but this version, definitely feels young and hip!
Even the technique is unique. You start by cutting up English cucumbers into a few pieces, placing them in a ziplock bag and “smashing” them with a rolling pin. It’s awesome for getting out your aggression!
Then, while you allow the cucumber to drain, you mix together a simple Asian-inspired vinaigrette, and eventually toss the whole thing together, along with some toasted sesame seeds. YUM!! And so EASY!!!
And so HEALTHY too but feels indulgent, which makes sticking to that resolution a whole lot easier!! When there’s a little container of this in the fridge, you’re a lot less likely to reach for that bag of chips, you know what I mean?
So pick up a copy of The New Essentials—I’m loving it and if you get a few free minutes this weekend, whip up this yummy salad. I’ll be back next week with some more healthy but still totally delicious new treats next week. Laters alligators!
The New Essentials Smashed Cucumber Salad-Famous Fridays
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus about another 30 minutes for cucumbers to drain
2 English cucumbers
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1. Cut the ends of the cucumber and toss out. Then cut each cucumber into 3 equal pieces. Place into a resealable bag and use a rolling pin to gently smash the pieces until flattened and split down the middle, into about 3-4 pieces per roll. As you remove them from the bag, tear into smaller pieces and place into a colander set over a bowl. Toss with the salt and let sit between 15-30 minutes to allow some of the moisture to drain away.
2. While the cucumbers are draining, place the rice and balsamic vinegars into a small bowl, as well as the minced garlic, and whisk together well. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Then whisk in the soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar.
3. When cucumbers have drained, place them in a large bowl and discard the draining liquid. Add the vinegar mixture and the sesame seeds and toss well. Serve immediately or cover and chill for several days.
Note: Recipe adapted from The New Essentials Cookbook by ATK. I tinkered a bit with this—added more garlic and minced it instead of mashing it and used rice vinegar and balsamic as a sub for the Chinese black vinegar which I couldn’t find.