Cool as a Cucumber
Wanting to use some items in our fridge, I decided to see what I could do with a simple cucumber or two. For one thing, I hate finding old cucumbers that are past their prime. Such wasted promise. And cucumber is such a tried-and-true favorite of mine. My uncle used to tease the way I said coo-cum-ber when I was a kid. Apparently I’ve always loved them. To me, the best ones obviously come from the greenmarket. Escaping the freeze-and-thaw step, farm fresh cucumbers retain a certain tang, taste and crunch. Since it’s only June in NYC, though, these cucumbers come from the supermarket. They will do for now…
Whenever searching for a keyword recipe, I type the term (today was “cucumber salad”) into epicurious.com and see what I can find. Today I aimed for basic. The middle of the week, I wanted a quick and simple recipe. It almost became a game – how few ingredients for how big of a return. Here’s the winner:
Paprikas Weiss’ Hungarian Cucumber Salad Epicurious | September 1998
by Joan Nathan
Jewish Cooking in America
Hungarian Jewish food is a perfect example of acculturation. Take this piquant cucumber salad, which can be made with one of the three different kinds of paprika — mild, sharp, or sweet. Taken there by the Turks who discovered it in the New World, paprika has been cultivated in Hungary since the sixteenth century.
Yield: Yield: 6 servings (P)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons water (about)
Fresh sweet paprika to taste
1. Peel the cucumbers and slice into very thin rounds. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 15 minutes. Squeeze out the liquid from the cucumbers.
2. Slice the onion very thin and mix with cucumbers. Add the salt, pepper, white vinegar, and water to cover the vegetables. Sprinkle paprika generously on top.
I was drawn to this recipe for a few reasons. 1) It satisfied the simple and basic requirement. I dare say most people have salt, onions, pepper, vinegar, water and paprika in their kitchen (I cheated and used the powdered stuff). 2) I’m of European descent and like that this is something from the “old country” or close to it. 3) It was quick. Nothing needs to sit in the fridge for two or more hours, causing a suppertime of 10pm onwards.
End result? The salad was bland (what could you expect with those ingredients?) but refreshing. I ate my portion with a piece of fish and this combination provided for a nice summer supper. Here’s a picture of the salad before serving. Definitely something I’ll make again when I want to use up some household ingredients.