This lively cucumber salad shows its Asian heritage with its rice vinegar, hot pepper, cilantro, and peanuts. It’s easy to make and a great way to use those delicious summer cucumbers when they’re at their peak.

We don’t feature many recipes outside of our original ideas. We admit, however, to shamelessly stealing this one right out loud. My brother (we call him Steezie) is a recovering science teacher and an all-around good cook. He enjoys simple preps, taking good ingredients and treating them well. He knows that when different produce items show up at the same time, it’s a pretty good indication they will play well with one another at the table. We enjoy multiplying this recipe and sharing it with friends on the terrace, looking through the Colorado mountain forest down to the river and knowing that he has done the same with friends in his central Texas backyard.

Cucumber Salad with Onion, Chile & Peanuts
Serves 4
(Tip of the hat to Steve DeBord III)

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1½ tablespoons sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large cucumber, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, trimmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
Stingy fistful of fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons chopped peanuts, roasted or raw

  1. In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.
  2. Put the cucumber, onion, and jalapeño in a festive bowl. Pour the cooled vinegar over the vegetables and toss until everything is coated evenly. If necessary, use your clean fingers to separate all the different slices of the vegetables. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Just before serving, stir the cilantro into the salad and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.

Cook’s Tips and Tricks: To take advantage of the jalapeño flavor without the heat, cut the stem end off and slice it into 4 pieces lengthwise. Using a small knife, cut out all the white ribs and seeds. Slice the green part into very thin strips, then cross-cut them into a mince. If the onion seems strong, put the slices into a colander and run super-cold water over them for 10 seconds. For a crafty touch, use a vegetable peeler to make stripes on the cucumber before slicing; it gives the coins a fun, strippedy look.

—From Picked at the Peak by Deborah DeBord, Ph.D.

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