Growing up, our family summer meals often included a simple, classic cucumber, onion, and tomato salad. The flavors were simple - cucumber, onion, and tomato soaked in a light briny dressing of rice vinegar, sugar, and dill. I adored this salad, and often made it once I had a kitchen of my own. Each bite made me think of childhood summers spent topping fresh green beans with my mom, husking corn on the cob with my grandpa, and picking tomatoes out of the backyard.
I've really missed that salad since cutting out most vinegars, sugar, and tomatoes from my diet. Over the last couple years I have tried playing with different ways to recreate it in a me-friendly way, but never really found the right combination. I finally hit the jackpot last weekend. This salad has a fresh and complex flavor and great texture; it is salty, sweet, tart, crunchy. I used a dressing of lime juice and umeboshi plum vinegar, which isn't really a vinegar at all, but a salty brine leftover from the fermentation and pickling process of making umeboshi plums. I added little dill, a pinch of mustard, and just a bit of my favorite local raw honey, and poured it over farmers market cucumbers and onions. Then I let it sit overnight for the flavors to meld, and the next day revealed an amazing salad at the 4th of July barbeque! My friends really liked it, as evidenced by the photo...
The leftovers were even better after a couple days of sitting in the fridge - the flavor had intensified, and the cucumbers were still nice and crisp. I think I like it better than the original salad because it isn't so gosh darn tooth-achingly sweet. I think that this is my new favorite way to eat cucumbers, next to the rockin' lacto-fermented cucumber dill pickles I just made (recipe soon to come, they are good). This also marks my first lime juice-containing recipe in about two years, which is very exciting. I seem to be tolerating small amounts of lemon and lime again, so I'm taking full advantage of it and keeping my fingers crossed that my tolerance will continue. If you aren't so fortunate, go ahead and use vitamin C crystals to create that "citrusy" bite.
Enjoy, and happy summer!
Cucumber Onion Salad, version 2.0
Depending on which sweetener you use, this can easily be either vegan, raw, ACD-friendly, or all three! I used lime juice; if you do not tolerate lime juice use vitamin C crystals dissolved in water for the acidic element; it will not have the "limey" flavor but will still be delicious.
4 large thin-skinned burpless cucumbers or European cucumbers (if using regular cucumber, you may want to seed and peel them)
2 medium spring onions (or 1/2 small sweet yellow onion)
1/2 cup umeboshi plum vinegar
3 limes, juiced (or 1 1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals dissolved in 1/4-1/3 cup water)
2 Tbsp minced dill
1/4 tsp ground dry mustard
1 Tbsp raw honey, raw agave nectar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, yacon syrup, or 5 drops plain stevia liquid, to taste
Thinly slice cucumbers and onion with a very sharp knife or a mandoline, or the slicing attachment on your food processor (I used a mandoline, and it worked great). Place in a large bowl or wide, shallow dish.
Whisk together remaining ingredients in a small bowl or and pour over cucumber and onions. Toss to coat, then cover dish and marinate for at least 4 hours, or for best flavor, marinate overnight. While marinating, stir occasionally and re-cover - this will allow for an even distribution of flavor. Serve cold or at room temperature, using a slotted spoon to drain out dressing when serving. Enjoy!