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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Bowl & whisk
Small pan lined with paper towel
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.