Easy Tangy Cucumber Salad…

I don’t know about you but after the holidays I crave eating light. My body just wants to go back to a more reasonable routine and dictates that my diet consist of mostly feel good food. And after a few days I feel back on track. Does that happen to you?

Quite often that change in diet consists of revisiting what I call “free” foods. By free foods I mean those that technically have no calories. Don’t get me wrong, all food has calories, but free foods are the kind that take more calories to digest than what they have resulting in a negative balance of calories. And one of my all-time favorite free foods is cucumber.

There are many ways you can serve cucumber that ramps up the calories, but this particular recipe, even though it does contain some sugar (and only if you feel you need it), keeps it down to a dull roar. This recipe is so easy to make and if you like tangy foods like I do, it will easily become your go-to salad option.

So let’s talk easy, tangy cucumber salad…

Lesson Learned 1 – Yes the dressing has sugar in it, but you can regulate that: After pouring through several variations of this kind of recipe I found that the amount of sugar used to offset the tartness of the vinegar can vary. Personally I like tart. I can eat a lemon like a piece of fruit. So I do not find apple cider vinegar to be over the top in terms of tartness. So here is my suggestion. Start with a light teaspoon of sugar (or maybe even no sugar at all). If after you taste the mixture you think it is too tart, add a little more. I would not go any higher than two teaspoons. After all this recipe is designed to be tangy.

Dressing Mixture

Lesson Learned 2 – Use a mandolin slicer to get nice thin, even slices: Nothing replaces a mandolin slicer for consistency in slicing. The main drawback of the mandolin slicer is the potential for slicing your skin as well, especially if you aren’t paying attention. Always use a mandolin slicer with caution, but use it to get the best results in slicing.

Lesson Learned 3 – This dish is not meant to be eaten immediately: This recipe tastes much better after it has a little time to sit so the cucumbers and dressing can get well acquainted. I would let it sit a minimum of 1 hour before serving. It’s even better if you let it sit for about 4 hours.

Lesson Learned 4 – This recipe is best if eaten with 2 days: Make only enough so that you will either finish it at one meal or for have it only for a couple of days. After that the cucumbers get lose their freshness and get too limp.

Quick, easy and flavorful. That’s what this recipe is all about. Try serving this as a replacement for a side salad or use it as a bed for a nice piece of roasted salmon as pictured below. You will love it, I guarantee it!

Easy Tangy Cucumber Salad...

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1-2 English Cucumbers (depending on size) sliced into 1/8 inch slices

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. olive oil

1-2 tsp. sugar (start out with none or a light teaspoon, taste and go from there)

1 tsp. kosher salt (add more if needed)

1/2 tsp. freshly cracked pepper

2 Tbs. fresh chopped chives

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl mix the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well. Slice the cucumbers and chop the chives. Add the cucumber and chives to the dressing mixture. Stir till well combined. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Serve as a salad or as an accompaniment to a meal (see roast salmon suggestion above).

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Candied Pecans…

I haven’t posted recently in my tips and tricks section so today I thought I would add a little tidbit into that category. This little trick is a great way to enhance the flavor of any salad – candied pecans.

The recipe came about when I recently hosted a Super Bowl party. Being that my home town team (the Denver Broncos) was in the game I wanted to have a menu that would allow me to actually watch the game but still serve food that was quick and easy but also special. For one of my dishes I decided to have an apple, cranberry spinach salad and decided that adding candied pecans would dress it up nicely. Needless to say, they were a hit. One guest said she wanted to forget the rest of the food and just eat the pecans. So next time you want to dress up a salad try this recipe. They’re so good and you can make them ahead of time which is always a good thing when you’re having a party.

So let me share a couple of quick reminders when making candied pecans…

Lesson Learned 1 – Make sure you line your baking pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper: Otherwise you will wind up with a sticky mess that will be very difficult if not impossible to clean.

Lesson Learned 2 – It is important to stir the pecans every 15 minutes: If you don’t they will all clump together and not roast evenly. The sugar mixture will harden so you want to regularly loosen it up and prevent having big globs of pecans stuck together.

Other than that, this recipe is very easy to make. But let me warn you, you’ll need strong will power in order to resist gobbling them all up yourself. Enjoy!

CANDIED PECANS…

  • Servings: Several
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 Tbs. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

8 ounces pecan halves, unsalted

1 egg white

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a large walled baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. (I used parchment paper and it worked just fine).

Combine sugars, cinnamon and salt. Whisk together till combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg white, vanilla and water until the mixture is frothy. Add the pecans and coat them thoroughly in the egg white mixture. Add the sugar mixture and toss until the pecans are completely coated.

Spread the pecans in a single layer onto the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes making sure to stir the pecans every 15 minutes.

Leave the pecans on the baking sheet until completely cooled. Store in an airtight container.

Candied Pecans