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Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

I have been making Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts for years, well over a decade, in fact. This is one my go-to recipes that is in heavy rotation especially during the summer months when I crave cool, crisp, and refreshing meals. I prefer to use English (or hot house) cucumbers for this recipe because of their thin skin and few seeds but if you grow your own cukes, by all means, use them.

The funny thing about cucumbers is that I didn’t like cucumbers (at all) until I was an adult. I adored pickles as a kid but wouldn’t touch cucumbers with a ten-foot pole. That’s weird, right?

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts is super easy to make. You combine a few ingredients like rice wine vinegar, water, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. The dressing is terrific blend of sweet, spicy, and acid.

While the dressing cools, slice the cucumbers very thin.  Using a mandoline makes this job a snap and results in perfectly uniform slices. The video below shows how to use a mandoline and features the exact same OXO brand mandoline that I use. I love it because I can set the width of the slices and it makes slicing so easy, just be very careful because the blade is sharp. Always use the included safety guard when using the mandoline.

After slicing the cucumbers, I recommend putting the slices into a colander and sprinkling them liberally with salt. The salt will draw the moisture out of the cucumber which results in crisp slices in your salad. Be sure to rinse the salt off the slices and then use a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and pat the slices to remove excess moisture before adding the dressing.

Just before serving Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, sprinkle the salad or individual servings with chopped up dry-roasted peanuts. The peanuts add that salty crunch which is the perfect foil for the cool, crisp cucumbers.

Sometimes I will make a pot of rice and serve the Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts in a bowl with a scoop of rice. I love to make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts to accompany Hawaiian Poke. Check out my recipes for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke or Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado. Grilled meat or fish would also make a great accompaniment to this salad.

How to Make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Raise your hand if you currently have more cucumbers in your fridge than fingers on one hand. Am I the only one raising my hand here? I doubt it. I don’t know what happened but a whole bunch of them come on at once. So, now I am busting out all the cucumber recipes that I love and eating cucumbers all the time. You have probably had a version of this cucumber sunomono salad one time or another at a Japanese or sushi restaurant.

Sunomono salad is a perfect side dish to accompany meals. It is light, crispy, and refreshing. The vinegar dressing is a perfect foil for any richness you may serve alongside it. For example, sunomono salad is perfect with spring rolls and a peanut dipping sauce. Or, I adore sunomono salad with Hawaiian Poke salad. You can find my recipe for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke here. One of my friends makes sunomono salad as a side dish alongside a marinated grilled flank steak or ribs. I think it would be terrific paired with grilled salmon too.

Sunomono salad can be dressed up or down. Vegetarians can skip the imitation crab altogether and consider adding chopped peanuts instead. You can kick the sunomono salad up a notch by adding shrimp to the salad. If you add shrimp, don’t use the little salad shrimp. Buy something bigger and then slice them in halfThe possibilities are endless!

I often make up a batch of sunomono salad on the weekend and enjoy it for lunch during the week. The cucumbers will soften as they sit but if you are using fresh cucumbers, the salad will remain crisp and flavorful. The salad also comes together so quickly that you can make it as a side dish on a weeknight and pair it with something that you’ve grilled.

How to Make Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Somen Noodle Salad

Somen Salad

I cannot stop making Somen salad this summer.  I think I have made it three weeks in a row. My friend Liz gave me the recipe years ago. Over the years, I made it from time to time when I needed an easy but tasty salad. But, then the recipe sort of dropped out of my brain and rotation. I hadn’t even thought about making it in forever.

Then, Liz recently mentioned that she was making Somen salad for dinner. And, just like that I had Somen salad on the brain again. Somen noodles are thin, white Japanese noodles made from wheat flour. They can be found with the Asian foods in most grocery stores. They cook very quickly and are typically served cold.

Somen salad combines somen noodles, lettuce, green onions, and scrambled eggs with a sesame seed dressing. The original recipe called for iceberg lettuce but I often will substitute Romaine since I typically have it in the fridge. Vegetarians will find this to be a satisfying meal but you could also serve it as a side dish alongside grilled flank steak or with pork tenderloin.

Somen Salad

Somen salad makes a terrific weeknight dinner as it takes very little time to prepare. Pluls, if you only dress the salad that you are eating, somen salad leftovers make a great brown bag lunch the next day.

Asian Noodles

Asian Noodle Guide

photograph: Vicky Wasik

The Serious Eats website has a great guide on shopping for Asian noodles which you can find here. Somen noodles are listed in the article if you want a visual of the type of noodle you will need for this recipe. The article includes descriptions and photographs of the most popular noodles. The article also features link to recipes using the various types of noodles. I encourage you to read up and then visit an Asian market and pick up a few new types of noodles to try.

Somen Salad pin

If Asian food is your jam, you may want to check out these recipes too:

Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo

Grilled Mexican Street Corn with Spicy Mayo

Fresh corn on the cob, it’s like baseball, apple pie, and the Fourth of July! Stopping by a farm stand and picking up fresh corn is one of life’s simple pleasures. Sweetie and I recently stopped by a new-ish restaurant in the Heber Valley called Main Street Social.  We enjoyed a delicious Mexican-inspired street corn dish. Obviously, I had to try to recreate this tasty meal at home. Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo is the result.

Summertime corn has a sweetness and crunch that cannot be found any other time of the year. So, for the weeks in the summer that is it on, I try to utilize it in every way that I can imagine. I would love to hear about your favorite ways to eat corn in the comments below.

Three Ways to Grill Corn

While testing the recipe for Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo, we wanted to try a few different ways of cooking the corn on the grill.  So, we bought a dozen ears, fired up the grill, and tried three different ways:

  1. Silks and husks intact
  2. Silks removed and husks pulled back over cob
  3. Silks removed and husks pulled back (or away) from the cob (see photos below)

Grilled Mexican Street Corn with Spicy MayoSweetie and I both decided that we didn’t care for the second option. But, from here we disagreed. I preferred the corn that had the silks removed and then the husks pulled back like a handle. This method gives the corn that beautiful char from direct contact with the grill. Sweetie preferred the first method which results in a moist, steamed cob of corn. The choice is yours.

Once the corn is grilled you can decide if you want to serve the cob whole or cut into smaller pieces. If you prefer the corn cob whole, then I would drizzle the spicy mayo over the whole cob and top with onions, cheese, and chives. If you want to serve the corn in bite-sized pieces, I like to pour the spicy mayo in the bottom of a serving dish and arrange the pieces of corn on the sauce. Then, top the corn with the onions, cheese, and chives.

Corn-lovers may want to check out these recipes for Shrimp and Corn Ceviche and Fiesta Buddha Bowls.

Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo

Dutch Baby Pancake

Dutch Baby Pancake

Who likes recipes that involve less than five ingredients, can be blitzed up in a blender, and takes under thirty minutes to bake? *raises hand*

The Dutch baby pancake meets these criteria. You simply put eggs, flour, milk, and seasonings into a blender and pour the batter into a hot skillet which contains melted butter. Let’s talk about Dutch baby pancakes. Have you ever had one?

For the uninitiated, Dutch baby pancakes come out of the oven as light, puffy, golden brown, eggy pancake. Have your cameras ready if you want to Instagram this dish because the puff of the pancake is short-lived. Within minutes, the air comes out of the Dutch baby and it flattens out to a slightly less photogenic but still absolutely delicious dish. The video uses a slightly different recipe but will show  you the process of making a Dutch baby pancake.

How-to Make Dutch Baby Pancakes

Dutch baby pancakes are typically served for breakfast or brunch. I love to eat a Dutch Baby pancake with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. But, served with mixed berries and maple syrup is also delicious. How does lemon curd and strawberries sound to you? Or, wouldn’t sauteed apples and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar be scrumptious? Let’s face it, any fruit that is in season is a perfect accompaniment to a Dutch baby pancake.

Once you make a Dutch baby pancake, you may find that your imagination runs wild thinking about the possibilities.  Please tell me that your imagination runs wild when you make a delicious recipe. I find myself thinking about what else would taste great on this light and fluffy pancake. What savory toppings can I pair with it to turn this into a savory dinner?

Dutch Baby Pancake

This recipe for a savory Dutch baby pancake from the NY Time includes fresh herbs in the batter and is sprinkled with salty, nutty Parmesan cheese while it bakes. OMG. Yum! I must try that recipe soon. I imagine pairing it with a salad and glass of crisp, white wine.

Enough daydreaming, let me encourage you to try making a Dutch baby pancake this week. You will impress yourself and your people as you take it from the oven in all its glory. I use my 10-inch cast iron skillet to bake the Dutch baby. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet then a similarly sized baking dish will do in a pinch.

Other recipes full of eggy goodness that you might be interested in:

Dutch Baby Pancake

Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

 

Let’s be real here. I heart anything that I can scoop in a tortilla chip. If that scoopable dip contains seafood then I am over the moon. So, you can imagine my excitement as I prepped this shrimp and corn ceviche.

Sometimes, I will go on a bender of good health and stuff delicious fillings into leaves of lettuce (Romaine and Boston Leaf being my favs) instead of chips. Other times, I just want to scoop up delicious fillings into crisp, salty tortilla chips. I fall completely into the salty camp and would trade you cookies, cakes, and brownies for chips, nuts, and cheese any day of the week.

In the interest of full disclosure, this recipe would be at its best during summer when you could score fresh corn from the farmers market and roast it on the grill but it is also possible to make this dip year-round using frozen fire-roasted corn.

Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

You can make this shrimp and corn ceviche several hours or a day ahead of when you plan to serve it. This makes it an ideal dish for parties or potlucks.

I used an orange as the citrus in the recipe but you could also use grapefruit if you preferred. Blood oranges would also make a dramatic and visually appealing substitution in this shrimp and corn ceviche recipe.

In addition to serving shrimp and corn ceviche as a dip or filling in a lettuce cup, you could also top the ceviche onto a bed of greens for a light lunch. I would serve the shrimp and corn ceviche with a crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or a summer beer such as a Hefeweizen.

As the weather warms up, what are your favorite recipes, drinks, and music to listen to while you enjoy the sun-filled days? Drop a comment below and let’s get this warm-weather party started!

How to Make Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

Blow-Your-Mind Black Bean Chili

Blow-Your-Mind Black Bean Chili

Are you ready for football to be over for the season? I know that I am.  Honestly, this year I couldn’t care less about either team that is playing in the Super Bowl. The only thing I am excited about is hanging out with friends and eating delicious food.

After Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl is the next big event in the Olympics of food.

You want to bring a dish to the party that will be delicious and Instagram-worthy. You may want it to have some sort of nutritional value. I always prefer homemade food, cooked from scratch, because I am weird like that. I want my food to be made from ingredients from the Earth rather than chemicals in a factory.

Blow Your Mind Black Bean Chili

My daughter often laments when she visits my house that my kitchen is full of ingredients rather than food. I take this as a compliment, although, I know it is not intended as such.

Super Bowl Appetizer Ideas

So, for weeks I have been trying to decide what to bring to the Super Bowl party that we will be attending this weekend. I can’t decide between snack food such as a dip with chips and veggies like this Roasted Carrot Hummus or Guacamole with Clementines or bringing something more substantial.

Blow Your Mind Black Bean Chili

Some of the people attending the party are meat and potatoes people and a few are vegetarians. So, I want to bring something that will appeal to everyone.

Keeping that in mind, in addition to the dip recipes listed above, I have a really delicious chili recipe to share with you. The Super Bowl and a pot of chili go together like wine and cheese. Am I right? Chili is a perfect party food. It can be made ahead of time and then kept warm in a slow cooker so it is ready to eat at half-time.

Blow-Your-Mind Black Bean Chili

This Blow-Your-Mind Black Bean chili is sure to please your football loving friends. I am so in love with this chili recipe! It is full of black beans and wheat berries (more on these in a minute) which makes it a super satisfying.

Blow Your Mind Black Bean ChiliThe addition of mushrooms also lends meaty texture to the chili which may keep the carnivores at the table from grumbling. The smoky flavor comes from chipotle chili powder. If you like extra heat and smoke, you could add a chopped up chili pepper and some of the sauce from a can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce. The chili is meatless which is perfect if you have vegetarians coming to party and hearty enough that the carnivores may not miss the meat.

If you aren’t familiar with wheat berries, I encourage you to give them a try. You boil the whole grains in liquid, usually water or broth, until cooked through. The process is similar to cooking rice. They have a chewy texture and a nutty flavor. You can find wheat berries in the bulk section of many super markets or packaged in the grocery aisle with other whole grains. Wheat berries are sometimes referred to as hard red winter wheat.

Blow Your Mind Black Bean Chili

Plus, suggest having a selection of toppings available so that guests can customize their chili bowls just the way they like them. Some of my favorite chili toppings are:

  • Avocado
  • Green onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Grated cheese
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Sour cream

Blow Your Mind Black Bean Chili

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