The first time I took a rolling-pin to a cucumber I was just a bit hesitant. What was I thinking? Wonderful and unpredicted – the salads were a hit all last summer. Often simply dressed with rice vinegar, a touch of salt and some sesame seeds, maybe a bit of sesame or olive oil.
Today I had a half-dozen perfect small cucumbers (these were Persian, about 5-6″ long and an inch or more in diameter). Lovely and crisp and what was I about to do? Whack them with a rolling-pin, releasing all the juices, creating jaggy edges. Tender rainbow carrots were shaved with a vegetable peeler, fresh ginger shredded on a fine grater. Some raw cashews, Thai spiced firm tofu on hand, tossed.
The dressing was simple, starting with fresh ginger, then adding rice vinegar, a bit of miso (recently I found a pourable one, perfect for quick dressing though miso paste dissolves readily and is no trouble), a teaspoon or so of sesame oil to give that toasted backbone. The salad works fine if you stop here and is very fresh tasting and looking:
To add a bit more of a nice rounding of flavours and toothiness, I tossed in a cup+ of cooked quinoa. Adding a small amount of cooked quinoa or other grain to salads is a nice and easy step, especially if you cook a larger batch for another meal and plan on some leftover for impromptu dishes and is something I borrow from my favourite – the Leon superfood salad from Allegra McEvedy.
5-6 small cucumbers, washed and trimmed
6 small young carrots, rainbow if available, scrubbed and peeled lightly
⅓ cup raw cashews
1 6-oz. package baked tofu, Thai seasoned, cut into ½” cubes
1 cup cooked quinoa
1-2″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons miso paste
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil (un-toasted is fine here)
Place cucumbers in a plastic bag or between paper, and gently smash with a rolling-pin until the cucumber begins to break into pieces. Place pieces in a large salad bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, slice peel carrots directly over cucumbers. You could also use a mandolin although I like the thin curling and ease of using a peeler. Add cashews and tofu and toss once gently.
Mix dressing ingredients, pouring over the vegetables, and toss again. If adding quinoa, add last, then toss once more time and serve immediately.
Serves 4-6, depending on whether served as a main or side dish