Cucumber salad is one of the flavors of my youth. My dad made it often in the summers with cucumbers picked straight from his garden. He sliced the cucumber paper thin and tossed it with salt, tons of pepper and vinegar for this simple and amazing thing. And just like I could in those days, this stuff is something that I can consume by the bowlful!
Similar to pickle, German cucumber salad is really vinegary. It differs in that it’s really quick and not at all sweet. The fresh vinegar tang and peppery bite make it versatile enough to pair perfectly with a heavy meal or stand on a sweet bed of greens as the superstar. My dad made it with onion sometimes, sometimes none at all. Leeks are milder and more palatable to kids, so they are my choice. If you’re not feeding children, go ahead and sub some crisp and juicy onion for a spicier bite. My kids also tend to like creamy dressings and since we’re dairy free, silken tofu is a great way to go creamy without much effort. Leave it out if you’re soy free. As an alternative try soaking a few tablespoons of raw cashews in water until they’re soft and then blend them with the vinegar for a soy free creamy dressing (if you can tolerate nuts, that is!)
Feeding the Family:
Tonight I made this salad and used it as a topper for my plate of salad greens. I am still on my high raw kick so the greens, some veg and the cucumber salad did it for me. I cooked some corn, but after a bite it was unfortunately obvious that spring corn is just not worth it! This was our 2nd batch of grainy corn. Yuck. For the rest of the family the cucumber salad served as a side salad on their plates.
I love that my husband and boys are comfortable eating a high raw, nutrient dense diet. Their dinner plates had salad greens, tomato, carrot, cucumber salad, saucy navy beans and an ear of corn. For our family of four, I used 1 heart of romaine, 4 cups of baby spinach, 4 carrots, 2 tomato, 1 English cucumber, 1/4 of a leek and 3 cups of cooked beans. (I’m not going to count the corn because it was really worthless, unfortunately).
How nice it was for me to talk with my kids about my memories of my father making this for me… I hope you’ll give this a try and think of me when you do!
German Cucumber Salad
(Serves 2 as a main salad on top of green – 4 as an appetizer or side salad)
1 whole cucumber (I use the long English Cucumbers)
2 Tbsp silken tofu or vegan sour cream
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
¼ cup thinly sliced leek, approximately 4 inch piece of leek
several generous grinds of pepper
good pinch of salt
1 tsp dried dill or 1 Tbsp fresh dill, minced
Let’s start with the cucumber: Peel it. Thinly slice it using a mandolin or sharp knife. Place the slices in a bowl and season them with salt, pepper and dill. Leave this to rest while we get on with the dressing.
Mash the silken tofu and vinegar together until the tofu is no longer lumpy and you have a smooth dressing. If you are using vegan sour cream you can just mix it with the vinegar until everything is creamy. Either way you’ve started, pour your finished dressing over the cucumber. Toss in the thinly sliced leeks and use a spoon to really mix the dressing with all of the slices. Give it a taste to see if more seasoning is required (I usually add another grind or two of pepper…)
For dessert I made a refreshing fruit “ice cream.” If you get in the habit of buying an extra bunch of bananas when you’re at the market, ice cream like this can be your indulgent reality anytime. Trust me, it’s hard to believe that something so easy can taste SO good and be so good for you! One serving will satisfy you while giving you a full serving of fruit in a totally whole food, non dairy, cholesterol free way!
Strawberry Banana Ice Cream
(Serves 4 )
2 cups frozen strawberries
4 frozen bananas
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tsp agave or maple syrup (raw honey makes a good vegetarian whole food option)
Put everything in the Vitamix or food processor and blitz for about 15 seconds or until everything is blended. The Vitamix is preferable because you can use the tamper to push the bits down into the blades for a speedy blend. The faster you blend, the better the ice cream. Clearly, the longer you need to blend, the more the fruits melt and the more like soft serve or smoothie your concoction will be.