This cucumber zucchini salad is flavorful, crisp, refreshing, and light. It makes a perfect light dinner on a hot summer day or just a quick side dish for BBQs and summer parties.
Thanks to Whole Foods, I can buy organic blueberries even when it's -10°C outside. I also enjoy ice cream smoothies and raw green salads throughout the year, no matter what the temperature is. It tastes so good, but sometimes it feels a bit wrong. Is there a reason health gurus tell us to eat seasonal local produce? Absolutely! It all goes to the balance of yin and yang, or warm and cool.
In our Western diet, foods are evaluated for protein, calories, carbs, vitamins, and other generic values. But in the Chinese diet, it's color, energy, and flavor that matter. Just like the weather, the seasons and even the time of day influence what happens in our bodies. So does the energy of the food we eat. Some foods have a cooling energy (leafy greens, cucumbers, snow peas, radishes, tomatoes, watermelons, etc.); some foods have a warming energy (root vegetables, pumpkins, turnips, squashes, onions, and cherries).
Cooking a raw food will often change its energy and cause it to have a warming effect on the body. You can take an apple (a cooling fruit) and bake it (a warming cooking method) with cinnamon (a warming herb) and this will warm the apple’s energetic effect. In the same way, you could take a carrot (a warming vegetable) and steam it (a cooling cooking method), which will change the carrot's energetic effect. The temperature at which you serve the food doesn't always matter though. Some foods are warming without ever being cooked (garlic, avocado, coconut, most nuts and seeds). Some foods are cooling even when cooked (tofu, vegetable broths, or steamed leafy greens).
The point I am trying to make is that the foods we eat affect the way we feel. When the weather outside is hot, we naturally prefer cooling foods and gravitate towards cooling cooking methods. When it's winter, warming foods are what we begin to crave. That's exactly how it should be.
Since it's still hot outside, I thought I would share with you a very easy cucumber zucchini salad. It's made from raw cooling vegetables and it's perfect for the summer!
Tips for Making Cucumber Zucchini Salad
The main two vegetables in this salad are cucumbers and zucchinis. These two rather dull vegetables work together beautifully in terms of texture. The cucumbers have a light, crisp, and crunchy texture, which compliments the meaty texture of zucchinis perfectly. While there is a whole lot of cucumber varieties, I would recommend that you stick with Persian or English. These two varieties are both prized for being thin-skinned — so they don't have to be peeled — and are pretty much seedless. I prefer Persian (also called Lebanese) cucumbers because they are extra crisp (rather than watery) and have a mild, sweet flavor.
The dressing is what elevates this simple salad to a new level. It's salty, tangy, and a little bit spicy. If you're not a fan of spicy food, swap the jalapeno pepper for green bell pepper. For am even more spicy salad, go for serrano pepper.
My favorite tool to slice the cucumbers and zucchinis is a mandolin. However, I understand that for many people mandolin is quite intimidating. So, feel free to use a food processor or a simple chef's knife to slice the veggies if you like.
Last but not least, make sure you allow a couple of hours for the vegetables to sit in the marinade. The longer the vegetables sit in the marinade, the more tender the vegetables get while still preserving their lovely crunch.
Tools You'll Need
1. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 2. Mandoline Slicer (Chef's Inspirations, Stainless Steel) | 3. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 4. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 5. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 6. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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Cucumber Zucchini Salad
- 2 Persian/Lebanese cucumbers*
- 1 zucchini
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ jalapeno or Serrano chili pepper
- 2 Tbsp. cilantro
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1-2 tsp. fine sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Using a mandolin, slice the cucumbers and zucchini into thin even slices. You can also use a food processor or a chef's knife if you don't have a mandolin. To get even bite-size pieces, cut the zucchini slices lengthwise and crosswise (if you're using an English cucumber, you will have to do the same thing with the cucumber).
- Transfer the sliced veggies into a bowl and give it a quick toss to separate all the slices.
- Chop the jalapeno (or Serrano) chili pepper, and cilantro, and add it to the bowl together with olive oil, lime juice, salt, and black pepper. Mix until combined.
- Place the bowl with the salad into the fridge for a couple of hours. This step is optional, but it will allow the vegetables to soak up all the flavors from the dressing.
- Store leftover salad covered in the refrigerator for a few days, though best within the first 24-48 hours.