Breaking out of the usual green-salad-side rut can sometimes be a challenge. Â Often the answer is to leave the leafy ingredient out of the dish altogether and feature one of the lesser, component-type ingredients as the star. Â Kind of like accessorizing a white t-shirt with a big statement necklace for a dressed-up look, instead of wearing a dress. Â We have previously tried (and loved) salads featuring components such as celery, avocado and cucumber as the main ingredients, so when we found a recipe combining these 3, we knew it would be a winner. Â Season with ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, sugar, lime juice and a little grapeseed (or olive) oil, and garnish with chopped cilantro and basil for a fresh, spicy/savory side dish that is anything but ordinary.
Peel and de-seed the cucumber, then cut it into small pieces.
This is the first recipe we’ve ever tried that calls for “macerating” the cucumber. Â Maceration refers to the process of allowing the cucumber (or other veggie or fruit) to sit in some salt and/or sugar (and/or other seasoning) until it releases its juices and softens. Â For this recipe, combine the cucumber pieces with salt, sugar, cilantro sprigs, red pepper flakes and minced ginger and garlic in a large resealable bag. Â Shake all the ingredients around in the bag until well-mixed. Â Mash the cucumbers lightly with your hands while mixing around the ingredients. Â Allow the cucumbers to sit at room temperature, turning halfway through, for about 30-40 minutes.
While the cucumbers macerate, chop the celery diagonally into small pieces.
Finely chop the cilantro and basil.
Discard the cilantro sprigs, then transfer the macerated cucumbers to a bowl and add the celery and herbs. Â Toss it all together with a little lime juice and oil. Â Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.
Just prior to serving, cut the avocado. Â An easy way to cut avocado is to cut fruit in half lengthwise, remove the pit, then thinly slice a grid pattern in each half (without cutting through the skin), and scoop out the pieces with a spoon. Â Place the sliced avocado on a plate, then spoon the cucumber / celery mixture on top and serve.
We served our salad with pan-fried soft shell crab. Â Yup, it tasted as good as it looks.
Cucumber, Celery & Avocado Salad
- 12 sprigs cilantro
- Â½ teaspoon minced ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Â¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Â½ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
- Â½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 cucumber (English if possible), peeled and cut into Â½ inch pieces
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced on a diagonal
- 1 avocado, halved, pit removed and sliced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed (or olive) oil
- Combine the cucumbers, salt, sugar, cilantro sprigs, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large re-sealable bag and shake well until well-mixed, gently mashing the cucumbers while mixing the ingredients. Â Allow the cucumber mixture to macerate at room temperature, turning halfway through, for 30-40 minutes.
- Empty the cucumber mixture into a large bowl and discard the cilantro sprigs. Â Add the celery and chopped basil and cilantro, then toss together with the lime juice and oil. Â Taste and add salt if needed.
- Just prior to serving, slice the avocado into Â½ inch pieces and place it on the plate. Â Spoon the cucumber / celery mixture on top of the avocado and serve.