radish cucumber herb salad
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Cucumber, my favourite underrated fruit (it’s fruit! it’s got seeds! shouldn’t there be a category called ‘savoury fruit’ I wonder?), is usually included in vaguely Greek salads with tomato and feta cheese. Whilst I’m absolutely not dissing authentic Greek salads, ours are usually boring, we don’t have Greek-ripe tomatoes and the feta is often too dry.
The other common option is cucumber sandwiches that are so old fashioned, some hipster versions might spring up soon (like, JUST bread crust, as opposed to those crustless, soggy afternoon tea participants of old).
Finally, the poor cucumbers are pickled to death in the infamous company of eggs and little onions*; those giant numbers sliced thickly, lots of seeds, no flavour.
There are much better ways to treat poor cukes; and you want the little ones, mini or Persians or ridge or pickling (but don’t!) that have thankfully started becoming more available alongside those enormous pale and tasteless breeds populating the supermarkets. Did you know for instance that they are gorgeous with honey? And that’s the real Greek way? A bit of feta, a few cucumber slices and good drizzles of good honey? Lunch, dessert, whatever.
And the salad below is an excellent environment for a cuke. It’s Samin Nosrat’s recipe based on sabzi khordan (love that language), Persian side plate of herbs served with everything, especially heavy meats I’m guessing. Cucumber gets on much better with a radish than a tomato and the feta is there just being sociable. And even though I’m not a very herby person (tabbouleh – yuck!), this is such a good combination that I happily graze on the mint, tarragon and the other things green on a bed of crunchy salads.
*that’s the British way. Americans have light on vinegar, big on taste ‘bread and butter’ pickles.
radish cucumber herb saladServings: 2-4Time: 15 minutes
- 50g (½ cup) shelled walnuts
- 1 bunch (10-12) radishes, trimmed
- 4 small cucumbers
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 60ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
- salt and ground black pepper
- 100g (3 ounces) feta cheese, drained
- ½ bunch chives snipped with scissors (2 tbsp.)
- a few sprigs of flat parsley, leaves stripped
- a bunch of fresh dill, fronds picked off thicker stems
- ½ bunch fresh mint, leaves stripped
- 2 sprigs tarragon, leaves stripped
Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes until darkened and fragrant. Turn them out onto a chopping board, chop roughly and sieve through a colander to get rid of skins and crumbs. Set aside.
Slice the radishes and cucumbers thinly and place in a serving bowl.
Mix the lemon juice with olive oil in a medium sized bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Dress the radishes and cucumbers with half the dressing, add the walnuts, crumble in the feta and toss everything lightly.
Stir the herbs into the remaining dressing and pile on top of the salad. Serve immediately – it’s fantastic with a plain baked potato.