How to Fight the Summer Heat: Light, Crisp & Refreshing Cucumber Basil Salad



Fourth of July 2012 Summer Salad

Fresh Cucumber Basil Salad to beat the summer heat!

Inspiration

This light, crisp, and refreshing Cucumber Basil Salad is a much welcomed and satisfying contrast to summer’s hot and humid weather. I have been making this salad for years, even before my allergy-stricken daughter was born. Although a hit with family and friends throughout the year, I enjoy this salad most in the summer made with fresh, in-season ingredients. Perhaps it is the refreshing inherent nature of cucumbers (I’m thinking of fancy spas serving cucumber-water and facials with fresh cucumber slices) that makes this salad such a refreshing contrast to the sweltering summer heat and humidity, especially common to those of us in the D.C. area! And because this salad is so quick and easy to prepare (requiring very few ingredients and little effort) I find it is a great go-to recipe when I’m pressed for time.

Fresh Herbs and Spices in Salad

My Herb “Garden” – $2.99 Fresh Basil Plant

This season, I made my first batch of cucumber-basil salad with the creamy red potato salad with quinoa that I prepared for a spur-of-the-moment Memorial Day cookout. (Both salads are free of the top 8 most common food allergens: gluten, dairy, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish, and shellfish.) I was inspired to make another batch after coming across this lovely, fresh basil plant in my local grocery store. Especially after some of our close friends shared with us that they have loads of fresh basil in their garden (I admit I’m somewhat jealous), I was so excited about my purchase (only $2.99!). The hungry rabbits in my neighborhood have discouraged me from planting any herbs or vegetables in my own backyard (well, the rabbits and my disdain for weeding. I’m not sure why I don’t like tending to a garden. Perhaps I’m just too impatient, wanting instant gratification?). So buying this basil plant allowed me to (instantly) bring an indoor garden to my living room. The aroma of the fresh basil was so welcoming that even my 3-year old kept asking to smell the plant, which he (excitedly, but not so impressively) watched me buy. Several weeks ago, my husband planted some butterfly flower seeds with my 3-year old. Not only did my son love helping sow and plant the seeds (i.e., playing in the dirt), but also he has enjoyed watching the seeds grow (yes, his patience surpasses mine). He gets so excited when anyone asks him if he wants to go check on his garden. Perhaps (next year?) I will stop making excuses and pull out some gardening gloves (truly shocking my immediate and extended family) to at least plant a few spices.

With Fourth of July cookouts around the corner, it’s nice to find recipes for tasty, simple summer salads. So I was happy to have come across the June 2012 Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free event, hosted by Danielle at Against All Grain. The theme is Seasonal Salads, so I thought it would be nice to share this cucumber-basil salad as my submission. I’m even more excited to see all the other summer salad recipes that will post just in time for Independence Day!

Fourth of July 2012 DessertNote: Rather than waiting until next Monday, this Friday I will post another yummy summertime recipe in time for early 4th of July celebrations: my Red, White, & Blue Rum Berry Granola Parfait (free of refined sugars and the top 8 most common food allergens)!

 

FREE Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized cucumbers
  • 1 small to medium-sized onion
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped (or 1 tbsp dried basil)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1½ – 2 tbsp granulated sugar or 1½ tbsp light Blue agave (or sweetener**)
  • fresh ground pepper to taste (I use about ½ tsp)

**I’ve even used about 2 packets of Splenda before (back when I used to eat it).

Method (or Mistakes)

This salad has been so much easier to make since my father (the toddler pictured in my Father’s Day post) sent me a Slice-O-Matic™. Even more than the EZCracker Egg Cracker (another handy gift from dad) that that my son and I loved (before learning of my daughter’s egg allergy), the Slice-O-Matic has saved me so much time in the kitchen! I think it’s also made my husband a lot less weary that I’m going to clumsily cut off the tips of my fingers with my unprofessional knife cutting skills. (For background, it was accidentally cutting of the tip of one of his fingers (seriously) when using a regular mandolin that led my dad to the magic of the Slice-O-Matic™
Slice-O-Matic™.)

Fresh Summer Vegetable Salad 2012

In-Season Ingredients for (Quick and Easy) Cucumber-Basil Salad

Salad Preparation: Thoroughly wash the cucumbers, and then use a sharp knife (or Slice-O-Matic™) to cut them thin. Place sliced cucumbers into a large salad bowl and set aside.

Thinly slice onions (even thinner than cucumbers), and then cut sliced pieces into quarters. Add onions to bowl. Add chopped basil (I use kitchen scissors to cut the basil leaves from my plant and “chop” them into pieces). Add olive oil, vinegar, sugar (or agave), and pepper to bowl. Stir well to combine ingredients. Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to serve. (Stir again before serving.)

Note: This salad is best prepared at least 3-4 hours in advance, allowing your cucumbers and onions a nice chance to marinate in your homemade dressing. This also helps calm the natural spiciness of the onions. (If you have time to marinate, stir occasionally so all vegetables have a bit of time in the dressing.)

NOM YUM

It’s amazing what a little extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and sugar can do for some vegetables. I’m generally not a fan of cucumbers, although I love pickles. And my husband usually does not like eating fresh onions; he will only eat cooked or sautéed onions on his burgers and sandwiches. Despite our picky hangups, my husband and I really enjoy this salad. Perhaps the sweet-vinegar combination masks the somewhat overpowering aspects of the flavor of the cucumbers and onions on their own?

And although fresh cucumbers are easiest to find this time of year, I admit enjoying this salad year-round (with off-season cucumbers and dried basil). As many of our off-season guests have agreed, the flavor of this salad pairs extremely well with tomato-based pasta dishes (like lasagna or spaghetti), which I don’t cook that often in the hot summertime weather.

I love questions and feedback!! Please share or comment if you are planning to try this recipe. And you’re always invited to post pictures of your cucumber salad (or takes on any of my recipes) on the Nom Yum & Free Facebook page. I hope to hear from you! Happy allergy-friendly eating, Devin

Featured on Allergy-Friendly (4th of July) Friday and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

See this and other salads in the June 2012 Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free: Seasonal Salads Roundup

Linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Allergy-Friendly Friday, Summer Salad Sundays, Friday Foodie Fix Cucumber Gluten Free Recipes, Allergy Free WednesdayFoodie Friends Friday


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