Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ina Garten's Creamy Cucumber Salad

Growing up, cucumbers didn't appear in our fridge very often.  When they did we'd often find them sliced and lightly salted in a bowl on the counter a few days later.  As a kid, I loved to sneak a slice or too.  Cool, salty, crisp.  Inevitably little fingers would snitch another.  And another.  We knew our mom was waiting for the cucumbers to weep enough to mix up her classic creamy cucumber salad.  By the time we were done, there was barely enough cucumber left for one serving.  But I don't ever remember being reprimanded.  I think she enjoyed the lightly salted slices just as much as we did.

Beyond the cucumber, onion and sour cream, I have no idea how my mom prepared that summer time favorite.  I suspect if I got her to talk me through the recipe the result would read "a dollop of this,  a dash of that."  Sometimes those are the best recipes.

Perhaps I should have picked her brain before searching online for another creamy cucumber salad.  I found one at foodnetwork which seemed acceptable.  But as with other attempts of Ina Garten's recipes, I greatly reduced the amount of salt and dressing used.  The dish is good.  Not Mom's, but still good....

adapted from Ina Garten's recipe at foodnetwork.

serves 8-10

The Ingredients:
2 lbs cucumbers (2-3 medium), thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt
1 1/3 cups Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
pepper to taste

The Process:
Combine the onions and cucumbers in a large sieve or colander.   Generously sprinkle with salt.  Toss to coat.  Place the colander over a bowl and set in the refrigerator to drain for 4 hour or over night...the longer the cucumbers can weep, the less soupy the salad will be in the long run.  Discard any liquid that collects in the bowl.  Pat the cucumber and onions dry, removing some of the excess salt.  Set aside

In a large bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, sour cream, vinegar and dill.  Add the cucumber and onions; toss to coat.  Season with pepper and salt to taste.  Refrigerate for at least one hour prior to serving to allow the flavors to mingle.  Serve chilled.

The Review:
Wow, Ina.  This recipe after modification was near perfect.  Highly reminiscent of my mother's.  I cannot imagine how soupy the dish would have been had I not cut back on the the quantity of yogurt and sour cream her recipe called for.  More tzatziki than salad, I suppose.

Nit picking aside, this was indeed a close recollection of mom's classic summer dish.  Cool.  Refreshing.  Pack with crunch, yet mellow and creamy.  It is a perfect accompaniment to spicier grilled dishes...serving as a palette cleanser.

The was not a favorite of many at our BBQ, however.  Those who tries it enjoyed it.  But a lot was left over at the end of the day.  And it is not a salad that keeps particularly well.  The next day the leftovers had wept a salty pool of cucumber tears...even after having drained them a full 6 hours before assembling the salad.  Draining off some of the liquid we found the cucumbers still maintained some of their crunch.  Only the flavor was not as wonderful as it had been the day before.

No wonder my mom made the dish one cucumber at a time...

1 comment:

  1. Cucumber is so refreshing this time of year - I really like how you've used Greek yogurt as the primary base here - a nice way to cream share with the sour cream ;-).