There aren’t many foods I dislike. Some foods don’t make it onto my plate often, but I usually won’t go so far as to say I don’t like them. For me, food is all about experimenting, trying new cuisines, and trying new ingredients, so I cannot fathom limiting myself by saying I won’t eat a certain vegetable or herb.
With that said, there is one thing that I have been very close to disliking for the last 10 years or so—cucumbers. They’re not exotic, nor do they have an extreme flavor that takes getting used to, but for some reason it has been difficult for me to warm up to their taste.
Unwilling to give up on any food, I decided to try cucumbers in a variety of recipes over the years, just hoping to find one preparation that I like, and finally, I did. Cucumber noodles are light and juicy and make cucumbers not just something I can stand, but something I love. You can use a vegetable peeler to create long noodle-like ribbons of raw cucumber, which mellows out the flavor a bit and alters the texture so that it’s softer than what you might be used to.
The ribbons make the perfect background for a light salad that could be either Asian or Italian inspired. The key to this recipe for an Italian cucumber-tomato-basil salad is finding the freshest, most flavorful basil you can, because it will really carry the dish. Enjoy!
1 cucumber, peeled
4 medium basil leaves
2 small tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
•Using a vegetable peeler, slice the cucumber from end to end into long thin ribbons, stopping once you reach the center of the cucumber and the seeds.
•Slice the basil using a chiffonade cut—stack the four leaves, roll them tightly, and then gently slice into thin strips.
•Place the sliced cucumber, the basil, and the tomato wedges in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss very gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 4 small or 2 medium servings