Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cool as a Cucumber

As summer heats up around us and temperatures approach 100, we are all looking for ways to stay cool. Farmers in the field are drinking their weight in water; dogs are seeking the shadiest of shade trees; kids take refuge in the pool; and air conditioning is working at full blast. I am very grateful that we finally made the heat pump upgrade for our heating and cooling system. Central air is a wonderful thing...even though Hubby keeps it cranked to frigid temps that leave me looking for a sweater in July.

Most of us don't want to heat up the house with hot meals. A simple cucumber salad is the perfect summer tonic. The usual preparation out here on the prairie has a creamy dressing and onions and/or tomatoes. I like to vary things a bit and add a little Asian flare to my cukes. It is great as a side to grilled chicken or steak with the cool cucumbers being so refreshing On My Plate.

Asian Cucumber Ribbons

¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 ½ English cucumbers, halved lengthwise

Bring vinegar and sugar to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then cool to room temperature.
Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil.
Cut cucumbers lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick ribbons using a mandolin slicer.
Toss cucumber with dressing and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Note: Do not let dressed cucumber salad stand for more than 20 minutes before serving, or it the texture of the cucumbers will be soggy. (Serves 4.)

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