Awhile back I shared one of my favorite lunches, this Couscous Salad. It’s pretty easy to make, pretty healthy, and pretty delicious. In that post, I talked about how I find lunch very uninspiring. I still do. I love going out to lunch though… why is it that a sandwich, soup, or salad at a restaurant is so much better than the exact same dish you made at home? Is that just me??
Maybe it’s because I don’t eat a wide variety of lunches. There’s only so many things that are portable and easily eaten on a brief lunch break. This salad is one of my go-tos. It takes about 5 minutes to make, so you can throw it together the night before. It’s healthy, with very simple ingredients. And since the whole avocado is in there, it’s filling enough to last you through the afternoon.
I like to use the small pickling cucumbers in this salad because I don’t think they leech as much water and stay more crisp in the fridge. You obviously can use a regular cucumber if you’d like. I usually make a double or triple batch at eat it all week. I kept this recipe small, because when it sits in the fridge for a day or two, the avocado gets brown and less pretty. I don’t mind this because it still tastes good despite its appearance, but I don’t want you people to make a big batch and be sad a few days later.
Fresh Avocado & Cucumber Salad
- 1 avocado
- 2 pickling cucumbers
- Juice from ~2/3s of a lime
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 4 turns of fresh ground black pepper
- A pinch or two of Kosher salt, to taste
- Slice the cucumbers and cut the avocado into chunks.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir to combine.
- Refrigerate until serving.
April 2017 Update: I think about this recipe from time to time, and in all honesty y’all, I’m not sure I can recommend it as posted. The sauce is delicious, but I think it’s just too overwhelming for cucumbers by themselves. One time I combined the cucumber and sauce with some rice noodles and that was much better. One of these days, I’ll whip up a more cohesive dish using this sauce and share that. Standby ’til then! Or if you want, give it a whirl and tell me what you think – how would you improve it??
There’s a recipe in the family cookbook I’ve been eyeing for a few weeks now. I love cucumbers and eat them as a snack all the time. I mostly toss them in vinegar or something similarly light. But since I’m always looking for a new recipe or a way to change things up, I thought this recipe for cucumbers with peanut sauce would be a nice change of pace. The only problem? Occasionally in our family recipe book, my mom/ aunts/ grandmothers forgot that we can’t read their minds when they were writing out their recipes. This was one of those recipes. It called for things like “the worcestershire sauce” to top “the cucumbers,” instead of actual amounts. So I guessed a little bit.
I think it turned out pretty well. I really like the peanut sauce. I will say though… I think it’s a little heavy for the cucumbers. Maybe it’s because, as I mentioned, I usually eat cucumbers without a whole lot on top. But maybe that’s just me. And the peanut sauce is worth repeating – I just may put it on top of something a little more substantial next time.
Cucumbers in Peanut Sauce
Recipe adapted from my family recipe-book
- 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- In a large bowl, whisk together white wine vinegar, brown sugar, and crushed red pepper. Add the sliced cucumbers to the bowl and refrigerate while preparing the peanut sauce.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a small pan.
- Once oil is hot, add garlic. Flash fry for just 1 minute, then turn the heat down to low.
- Once oil has cooled some, stir in the peanut butter. Stir continuously until oil and peanut butter are well combined.
- Now lower heat even further, so burner is barely on. Stir in remaining three ingredients.
- Leave on very low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
- Remove cucumbers from their bowl, leaving the liquid behind. Whisk together the peanut sauce and vinegar mixture.
- Return the cucumbers to the bowl. Refrigerate until cool before serving.
For those who don’t know, raita is a very versatile Indian yogurt dip/sauce. A dollop on top of spicy hot dishes cools them right off. Naan dipped in raita makes delicious naan even better. I say versatile because raita basically is a blank canvas that can be modified in a million different ways. You start with plain yogurt and go from there. Herbs and spices, vegetables, even fruits, can be used to make unique raita! For those looking for a maybe more familiar comparison, cucumber-based raita is popular and very similar to Greek tzatziki. That’s what I was going for today for this recipe and then was inspired by this delicious-looking recipe too!
Roasted Garlic & Cucumber Raita
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 whole head of garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 large pickling cucumbers
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt – divided
- 10 turns of pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, slice the top off of the head of garlic (so tips of individual cloves are exposed).
- Drizzle the oil over the exposed parts of the garlic head. Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil and place in the oven on a middle rack. Enjoy the amazing smell of roasting garlic.
- Roast for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cucumbers. I spiralized about half of the cucumbers and grated the other half, because I like different textures.
- Set the cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt. This will draw water out of the cucumbers. Allow them to sit there for at least 20 minutes. You can squeeze them too to get even more of the water out.
- Remove the garlic from the oven when it’s done and allow the garlic to cool until you can handle it.
- Pull apart the individual cloves and squeeze the garlic out of its skin into a small bowl. After you’ve squeezed all of the cloves out, then use the back of a fork to mash the more intact cloves up.
- Add the garlic, cucumbers, the rest of the salt, and pepper to the yogurt. Mix everything together.
- Serve with Indian food, on a wrap, as a dip for crudites or pita chips, or whatever you want!
Have you been introduced to zoodles, the semi-recent food craze and healthy-eater favorite? I love these spiralized “noodles” of zucchini. We’ve made several dishes with them, and I think they work great as a noodle or grain substitute if you’re into that kind of thing. What I don’t think however, is that they are “just like pasta.” You’ll see recipes floating around for things like Zoodles Alfredo where the authors claim they “can’t even tell the difference” between regular pasta and zoodles. I call BS. I like zoodles. I think they taste good. I think they work really well as a substitute in many situations where you would otherwise use noodles or rice. But I can definitely tell the difference!
I personally like cooked zoodles way better than just spiralized zucchini raw. I don’t know why it tastes that different to me, but it does. Hence why in this recipe I cook the zoodles, even though I’m making a cold salad. Don’t judge. (And don’t do it if you don’t want! I’m sure normal people would like the whole thing raw.)
Mediterranean Cucumber-Zoodle Salad
- 2 zucchini squash
- 1/2 of a large cucumber
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Handful of baby carrots, chopped
- 10 kalamata olives, pitted & quartered
- 4oz Feta cheese
- 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white wine
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- Salt & pepper
- Use a spiralizer to spiralize the zucchini and cucumber. Alternatively, use a mandolin or julienne peeler. You want to end up with thin strips. Place the zoodles in a strainer (set aside the cucumbers). Toss with salt. Allow to sit out over the sink for 15+ minutes. This draws the liquid out of the vegetables and keeps them from getting mushy.
- Now squeeze the zoodles between your fists. You’ll be amazed how much liquid you can squeeze out! (You won’t hurt the zoodles, they’re pretty durable.)
- Put olive oil in saute pan over low-medium heat. Once warm, add zoodles to the pan and saute for ~10 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside, and allow to cool. [Skip this step if you’re not weird like me and are fine with raw zucchini.]
- Combine zoodles, cucumber, olives, and feta (crumbled or cut into chunks).
- Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Then toss the vegetables with the dressing and serve.