serrano chiles

Salads, Vegetables

Spicy Cucumber Salad

Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

Has anyone been to Momofuku? Visiting a David Chang restaurant has been on my short list for many moons. And a few weeks ago serendipity intervened. I was in DC for work and as the cab pulled up to my hotel, I spied a telltale electric pink 'milk' sign belonging to Momofuku CCDC just across the way. Cue the heart eyes emoji. But my luck didn't stop there. By some small miracle I had no plans for lunch or dinner that night. I made a quick calculation as to whether this good fortune outweighed the impropriety of going to the same restaurant twice in one day. It totally did and so I went. Don't judge. 

Among the many ridiculously delicious things I ate between my two outings (pork buns, shrimp buns, spicy noodles), it's the cucumber salad that's been occupying my daydreams. It's the kind of salad you want to eat a bucket of - crunchy, refreshing, salty, and spicy. I more or less did eat a bucket since the cucumbers were such a perfect foil to the rest of the rich, heavy fare we ordered. Although I had the good sense at the time to ask our server how it was made I did not have the good sense to write it down. Of what she shared all I recall is 1) it's finished with togarashi and 2) the dressing contains pureed scallions. Curiously though you use only the light and dark green parts. This stayed with me since it's the opposite of what I've been conditioned to do with scallions. 

I did a bit of Googling but the internet failed to turn up a recipe so below is my best attempt. Is it spot on? Of course not. I'm no David Chang. But it was pretty darn good and should hold me over until Momofuku sets up shop in Boston.

Cukes | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Cucumbers | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

  • 4-6 mini seedless cucumbers (these require no peeling and have less water than the big honkers)
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped (light and dark green parts only, toss the white bulb)
  • Handful cilantro leaves (about 1 cup, loosely packed)
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled + roughly chopped
  • 5 Tbs. neutral oil (canola, peanut, or safflower)
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • Togarashi spice
  • Kosher salt

Prep

  • Chop cucumbers into small chunks (split in half and then slice crosswise into 1 inch pieces).
  • Line a colander with paper towels. Place cukes in colander and sprinkle generously with salt.
  • Let the cucumbers sit at room temperature (or in fridge)  for about 30 minutes. This will infuse flavor and also sweat out some water.
  • While you're waiting make your dressing. Place scallions, ginger, cilantro, oil, rice vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a blender. Puree until smooth and taste for seasoning.
  • Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and beginning to brown. Let cool and then roughly chop.
  • When ready to dress and serve, pat cucumbers dry with a fresh paper towel.
  • Toss cukes, dressing, almonds, and serrano chile in a bowl. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with togarashi and a few more almonds.

Salads

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Chopping Watermelon | www.hungryinlove.com
Chopping Cucumber | www.hungryinlove.com
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Feta | www.hungryinlove.com
Basil | www.hungryinlove.com
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

My heart is so happy right now I could squeal! We've just returned from our family's 29th annual reunion in South Carolina. Back when I was a wee lass my grandparents had the good sense to institute a summer tradition of gathering their five children plus families for a week at the beach. God bless them, they stuck with it. I've always cherished this trip but have grown to appreciate it more with each passing year. With a new crop of itty-bitty babies our head count this summer totaled 33. Besides the good company, I adore that this week is a true vacation. There's nowhere to go, nothing to see. Upon arrival it takes but minutes to fall into the familiar routine we've perfected over nearly three decades. Tennis/jogging/straight up lounging in the morning; lunches of build-your-own honey baked ham sandwiches and pimento cheese (while it lasts); afternoons on the beach, stocked coolers in tow; cocktails and hor d'oeuvres on the porch; dinner together at the big long table (actually three pushed together to make one); party and card games in the evenings. Sleep and repeat. It's magic. Scroll on for a few snaps.

Every night a different family takes a turn cooking dinner for the crowd. Some version of this watermelon salad usually makes an appearance, and for good reason. It's simple, brilliantly pretty, and a surefire crowdpleaser.

The beach house...

The beach house...

...and 180 degrees.

...and 180 degrees.

South Carolina surf.

South Carolina surf.

My adorable grandparents with their five children. Props to my mom for holding her own with four brothers!

My adorable grandparents with their five children. Props to my mom for holding her own with four brothers!

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 small watermelon, cubed (if you have a large melon, use 1/2)
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced into thin rounds (if you don't like heat, omit!)
  • 8 oz. feta*, cubed 
  • 12-16 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 12-16 mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Juice of one half lime
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil

Prep

  • Toss watermelon, cucumber, serrano, feta, basil and lime juice in serving bowl
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil
  • Serve immediately (If allowed to sit the watermelon and cucumber will release water. Toss ingredients as close to serving as possible.)

*A few notes on feta from our resident cheesemonger. High quality feta will make this salad sing. Feta can be made from cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep's milk, or some combination of these. In the States cow's milk is the most ubiquitous, found in those little vacuum sealed squares at the grocery store. Those will do in a pinch but you're better off seeking out a feta packed in brine. 100% sheep's milk is my favorite. French, Greek, or Bulgarian are all excellent bets but never rule out the feta you find at your local farmer's market. 

Snacks

Roasted Green Grape Guacamole

Roasted Green Grape Guacamole | www.hungryinlove.com

This weekend Tripp and I mapped out our grand calendar of upcoming summer adventures (Carolina! Maine! France!). Besides making me totally giddy, the activity put a rumble in my belly for summery fare, picnics, and parties. With a few weeks left of New England spring, testing summer recipes inside on rainy days is a substitute for the real thing I won’t turn down. Hence, guacamole.

Ah yes, guacamole: friend-maker, woe-mender, harbinger of good times. If I were someone who believed in magic, these powers might seem reasonable. But I’m a notorious skipper of horoscope sections so an alternative explanation is in order. Perhaps it’s nothing beyond the singular alchemy that is avocado + lime + salt.

I’ve long been a fan of fruit-laced guacamole (hello, mango). But last summer was the first time I enjoyed a grape-studded rendition. Plump and bright, grapes are a splendid counter to creamy, rich avocado. Throw roasted grapes into the equation and whoa, you’ve just made a dish with an ingredient ‘two-ways’ at home. I have to admit I was pretty proud of that.

Roasted Green Grape Guacamole Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Roasted Green Grapes | www.hungryinlove.com
Roasted Green Grapes | www.hungryinlove.com
Grapes: two ways!

Grapes: two ways!

Avocados | www.hungryinlove.com
Guacamole Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Roasted Green Grape Guacamole | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

Makes 3-4 cups

  • 2 cups whole grapes (visually I think green grapes are best here but red are a fine substitute)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil + salt
  • 3 ripe Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup quartered grapes
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 2 serrano chiles, finely diced (if you don't like heat, use only one or omit altogether)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (about 1 bunch)
  • Juice of three limes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Prep

Roast Grapes

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Toss 2 cups whole grapes with olive oil, season with salt, and spread on a baking sheet
  • Roast for 15 minutes; grapes will release juices and start to caramelize
  • Transfer grapes to a plate to cool
  • Roughly chop

Assemble Guacamole

  • Place avocado, roasted grapes, quartered fresh grapes, onion, chile, cilanto, lime and salt in a mixing bowl
  • Use a fork to combine until all ingredients are evenly dispersed but avocado chunks remain
  • Taste for seasoning; add more lime and salt as needed
  • Serve with tortilla chips or crudite
  • The flavors will be doubly awesome if you allow guac to sit inthe  fridge (covered) for a couple hours