from Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau, Once Upon a Tart… Soups, Salads, Muffins, and More, pp. 116-17.

Another dish that we served at my picnic and drew a lot of praise is this supremely crunchy salad. I’m only beginning to explore this book. Already I like its simplicity. The authors also give very good advice, which I’ll save for the point where I put it together.

Their instructions are very simple:

Serves 6

6 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch slices

3 cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices

3 scallions, both the white and green parts, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 red onion, halved again and sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, julienned

for the vinaigrette:

1 T Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1/4 cup white-wine vinegar

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

2 T finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 T finely chopped fresh mint

1. Throw the vegetables into a big bowl as you cut them.

2. To make the vinaigrette, whisk the mustard, garlic, vinegar, cumin, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl. Add the olive oil in a slow, thin, steady stream, whisking as you go to form an emulsion. Stir in parsley and the mint.

3. Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, pour the vinaigrette over your vegetables and, using a large metal spoon or your own two hands, toss itup until the vegetables are evenly coated. Taste the salad to see if it needs more of anything, particularly salt.

When I made it…

The one piece of advice the authors give taught me something new about cucumbers. To cut their advice short, if you want crunchy cucumbers, no matter what kind of cucumber you use, seed them and cut them into substantial chunks — 1/4-inch, like the recipe calls for. “If you cut them too thin, the acid in the lemon or vinegar ‘cooks’ the cuke, breaking down the fibers of the cucumber so you lose the characteristic cucumber crunch. I did not know that. And that probably explains something about the cucumbers in the pork belly recipe.

The rest of the recipe is pretty straightforward. I would not overdress the salad. They recommend, too, trying radishes, daikon or jicama, cut into sticks.

Last Thought:

A good summer salad. No more to be said.

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