What’s the term for a group of vegetables? We have a herd of cows, a flock of sheep, a murder of crows… but what do you call a bunch of vegetables? A bunch?
Either way, we got a lot of leeks this week in the CSA. I tried to chop and freeze them a few years ago, but I just didn’t get back to using them and they got freezer burn. I think I will put them into a quiche. Sound good. Maybe with bacon?
That’s a lot of leeks. A bunch of leeks? A bramble of leeks?
We got a healthy load of cucumbers this week. I’m completely OK with that. First, I’m at my fermenting workshop this week learning all about lactic acid fermentation and making old-fashioned “sour” pickles. Second, there’s nothing to beat the heat like an ice-cold cucumber. We’ll see what happens.
I’m also happy to see an influx of full-sized onions. We’ve been running low on aromatics over the past week. Spring onions are past, green garlic is scarce, and there’s not a ginger root or shallot to be had.
Cooks Illustrated suggests massaging kale. “Kneading and squeezing” will break down cell walls. They recommend 5 minutes for standard kale and 1-2 minutes for lacinato and red Russian kale.
Here’s the thing… the Japanese technique of sunomono also uses massage to break down cell walls and make vegetables softer and more tender. The difference is the Japanese method includes salt, which helps break down cell walls and extract moisture, but then rinses the vegetables to remove the excess saltiness.
I think this calls for Sunomono, or Japanese cucumber salad! This dish is great on a hot summer day, served with cold soba noodles and iced dipping sauce.
Serves 2 generously.
Peel, cut in half the long way and seed one cucumber. Cut into thin slices on the mandoline.
Mix cucumber and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Gently rub the cucumbers with salt until they become tender, but not limp, and give away lots of liquid. Gently squeeze the cucumbers to remove any excess liquid. Save the liquid to make a dressing in step 3.
In a microwave-safe glass measuring cup, measure out the cucumber liquid to get 1/4 cup. If theres too much, pour out excess. If there’s not enough, add water. Mix a pinch of dashi granules, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce and a big pinch of sugar in with the cucumber water. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir to dissolve the dashi and sugar.
Arrange half of cucumber slices in the center of a bowl. Pour over a generous amount of dressing, leaving a puddle in the bottom of the bowl. If time allows, chill to be ice-cold.
Both cucumbers and cantaloupes are fruits in the cucurbit family.
Two of my favorite summer vegetables are cucumbers and cantaloupe. They are a fleeting addition to my diet. I tried canning spiced melon balls and they were mushy and disgusting. Each year, I will make one jar of refrigerator cucumber pickles, but I don’t like the texture of home-canned pickles. From July through late August, I probably eat half a cucumber and a few slices of cantaloupe every day. By September, they’re not a part of my diet, and in June, I crave a cucumber on the first hot, sunny day of the summer.
This salad comes together quickly and can get soggy if let to sit. After cutting the fruits (Yes, cucumbers are fruits…), I assemble this salad in a colander set in a bowl, and use some of the juices to toss with a simple dressing.
Cantaloupe Cucumber Salad
1 medium cucumber
1/4 of a cantaloupe or muskmellon
pinch of salt
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
Peel and seed the cucumber. Cut into matchsticks or julienne using a mandoline.
Cut away the rind of the muskmelon. Cut into matchsticks or julienne using a mandoline. You should have about equal parts of cantaloupe and cucumber.
Sprinkle the vegetables with a pinch of salt and toss in a colander set over a bowl. Allow to drain 15-20 minutes. Gently squeeze the vegetables to get the last liquid out.
Mix 1 tablespoon of the drained liquid with rice wine vinegar to make a mild dressing. Toss with the vegetables and serve.
Afterthought: All this time, I was misspelling it “cantelope.”