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Related Ingredients

Tasting Notes

This refreshing cucumber salad gains added complexity from Michael Mina’s clever technique of charring in order to convey smoky, earthy flavors.

It makes for the perfectly balanced salad, tossed with sharp onions, bright mint leaves and the warm spices of cumin and coriander seeds. Ripe heirloom tomatoes add a final touch of sweetness and acidity.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Cooked cucumbers? The Chinese have long used them in stir-fry preparations to add crunch and a cooling factor to dishes. Grilling is another great way to cook them – either on a grill or as Michael does in a panini press. Just be sure the cucumber pieces aren’t too small or else their watery flesh will turn to mush from the heat.
  2. Yes, compressing veggies is easy! The key is to make sure that each cucumber slice has the same thickness so that each piece chars evenly on the panini press or between two pans, which place a similar pressure on the veggies as they cook.
  3. Start hot. Make sure that the grill is extremely hot before you put the cucumbers on it. This will prevent the cukes from sticking and promote a char on the surface of the cucumber while still maintaining the watery crunch within. If the grill is too low, the cucumber will cook down and get soggy by the time a char develops.
  4. Chef’s knife. Always cut herbs with a very sharp knife to prevent bruising. Invest in a good one and you’ll never regret it. It’s the workhorse of knives, the one you’ll reach for the most. Hold and grip each one at the store until you find the knife that is most comfortable in your hand. Use a sharpening steel daily so that the blade stays smooth and have your knife sharpened professionally every few months in order to keep it in tiptop shape.


These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Panini press. If you don’t have access to a grill, you can slice the cucumbers into rounds and char them on a panini press. Michael Mina proves that an electric panini press is an extremely versatile tool that is ready to take on an array of ingredients. Simply plug it in and make sure to give it enough time to heat up. Don’t have one? A grill pan on the stovetop as the base and a heavy skillet acting as the top-compressing weight works well too.
  2. Masking tape. For perfectly uniform cucumber rounds, stick a piece of tape to your cutting board and use a pen to draw two dots half an inch apart on the tape. As you slice your cucumber, use the dots as a guide for thickness.

The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.


Panini press
Bowl & whisk
Cutting board
Medium bowl
Masking tape
Pastry brush
Small pan lined with paper towel

  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus additional for cooking
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seed
  • ½ teaspoon toasted and ground coriander seed
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 white onion or yellow onion (ideally Wala Wala or Vidallia)
  • 2 (8-ounce) heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, torn in half
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper

Serves: 4

Total time: 20 minutes

Active time: 20 minutes

  1. Cut the cucumber into ½ inch rounds, all exactly the same width. To easily ensure that all of your slices are the same width, place a strip of tape on your cutting board and mark two dots, ½ inch apart, with a pen on the tape. Then hold your cucumber next to the tape while slicing, using the dots as a guide.
  2. Slice the onions into ½ inch slices crosswise, keeping the rings together.
  3. Lightly brush the onion and cucumber slices with olive oil using a pastry brush and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  4. Preheat a panini press on high heat so it reaches 380°F (if you do not have a panini press, use a sauté pan and top with cast-iron pan for weight).
  5. Sear the cucumber slices and the onion slices in the panini press until they are deep golden brown, approximately 4 minutes. Onions may take slightly longer than cucumbers.
  6. Chop the parsley and mix with olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes, whisking ingredients together in bowl to emulsify the dressing.
  7. Cut each tomato into 8 wedges and set aside on large plate.
  8. Transfer the cucumbers and onions to plate with paper towel to remove excess grease.
  9. Transfer the cucumbers and onions to the plate with tomatoes and lightly drizzle with dressing, making sure not to overdress (you will most likely have leftover dressing).
  10. Adjust the seasoning of the vegetables with salt and pepper if necessary and garnish with mint.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Grilled vegetable salad with bulgur wheat

For a fulfilling vegetarian meal, add two other seasonal vegetables and cooked bulgur wheat to this grilled cucumber salad.