Ari's Top 5, Recipes

Terrific Salad of Cucumber, Radish and Avocado

Bringing early summer flavors together in the salad bowl

This is another easy and excellent taste of summer that Tammie and I have been trying out different versions of. It’s refreshing, good for you, and a delicious pairing with almost anything else you’re having for dinner. Yotam Ottolenghi says, “A well-made salad must have a certain uniformity; it should make perfect sense for those ingredients to share a bowl.” This is a great example of Yotam’s thought in action; no one component dominates, and each plays its part in creating a sum total of a salad that’s greater than any of the individual elements would be on its own.

To start the salad making, cut a fresh local cucumber into cubes. Depending on your relationship with bitter flavors, and the quality of your cucumber, you can decide to leave the peel on or take it off (I generally leave it on). Put the pieces into a large salad bowl, then sprinkle on a bit of good sea salt. Cut fresh radishes in halves or quarters. (Don’t throw away the greens—you can sauté them in a matter of minutes and they’re great for a side dish, soup, or sauce.) Chop a generous handful of fresh herbs. As you may know, Tammie has been bringing home bunches of beautiful herbs from Tamchop Farm so we’ve had plenty—fresh basil, chervil, parsley, mint, lovage (which has been truly delicious) … any or all will work wonderfully well. Dress with a small bit of sherry vinegar, a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil and let it stand for a bit. The salt and the natural liquid in the vegetables will come out in about fifteen minutes. Taste the salad and adjust seasonings as you like. When you’re ready to eat, take a ripe avocado out of its peel and cut into cubes about the same size as the cucumber. Add to the salad and mix gently.

Serve it on a bed of fresh lettuces. You can eat it as is, or I’ve been putting tinned tuna like the fine stuff from Fishwife I wrote about a few weeks ago on top. Toasted chopped almonds are a great addition as well. And/or a nice slab of feta, sprinkled with more chopped fresh herbs. The salad would work really well as a side dish for a summer meal, alongside a piece of fresh fish or a grilled steak. It would be marvelous for a morning meal as well, served like a fresh “salsa” next to scrambled eggs and a toasted Zinglish muffin from the Bakehouse.