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Summer Cucumber Salad

It's smart to be selective with your summer vegetables. For example, tomatoes really never taste quite as good in the heat of July, as they do in this heirloom tomato salad. Another summer vegetable that really never tastes better at this time of year is the cucumber – that is, unless you know what to do with it. Every summer I would look forward to picking cucumbers and having my Hungarian grandmother make this incredibly cool and refreshing cucumber salad. It's simple to prepare and oh so good!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 fresh cucumbers, peeled and sliced very thin*
  • 1/2 banana pepper (preferably Hungarian) or 1/2 of a green pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

* A steady hand or a mandoline works best – aim for about an 1/8" thick.

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Fresh pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Once your cucumbers are sliced, layer them in a sieve alternating with a sprinkling of salt between each layer. Place the sieve over a bowl and allow the cucumbers to rest for about 45 minutes. Doing so will pull liquid out of the cucumber. While the cucumbers are resting, mix together all of the dressing ingredients except for the garlic. Whisk well to dissolve the sugar. Taste the dressing and adjust to your liking — it should be a little sweet with a hint of the vinegar. Add the garlic slices and place in the refrigerator.

Next, grab a handful of cucumber slices, rinsing them under water and squeezing them in your hand to make a hard fist. This rinses the salt and also continues to squeeze any excess water from the cucumber. Continue until all of the cucumbers are rinsed and squeezed thoroughly. Combine the cucumbers and sliced peppers in a separate bowl and add the dressing. Place in the fridge for 3-4 hours to allow the salad to chill. Before serving, stir and sprinkle with additional paprika.

When cucumbers start to come in, and keep coming in, this will soon be a go-to summer side dish. It's perfect for barbecues, too!