Earlier this summer we joined Comeback Creek Farms Summer CSA Program. For eight weeks, I drove to Local Restaurant in Deep Ellum and picked up my assorted produce box. June, July, and August were known as the months of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini. Lots and lots and lots of zucchini.
One dish I made that I just loved was this Cucumber Salad from Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2015 issue. The minds behind this simple yet delicious dish are chefs Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas of Olamaie in Austin. Like all great working relationships, the chefs met while cooking together at L.A.’s Son of a Gun where they shared their passion for classic Southern cooking.
Texas is meat country, so eating composed vegetable dishes like this is a real treat for me. I loved everything about it: cool refreshing cucumbers, buttermilk dressing, pickled onions, and sunflower seeds. It’s crunchy, creamy, and the perfect dish to make when it’s 100+ degrees outside and you don’t want to turn on your oven.
Cucumber Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and Pickled Onion:
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced tarragon
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 3 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 3 Kirby cucumbers, cut into thin wedges
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Sunflower sprouts, roasted sunflower seeds, and tarragon leaves, for garnish.
For the pickled onion: In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, water, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat; add the onion. Allow to cool in the warm liquid, then refrigerate until chilled.
For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the salad: In a medium bowl, toss all of the cucumbers with the vinegar and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the cucumbers with salt and pepper and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Spoon the dressing into the bottom of a shallow serving bowl, and top with the dressed cucumber salad. Drain the onions from the pickling liquid and scatter over the cucumbers. Garnish with sunflower sprouts (if you’re using them, I found them hard to find at the grocery store), sunflower seeds, and tarragon leaves. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and top with finishing salt. Serve immediately.