Mom’s Super-Quick Cucumber Salad

Mom’s Super-Quick Cucumber Salad

Stephen and I went to Costco the other day—my parents gave us a membership as an anniversary present last year, and it’s expiring this week. We didn’t exactly make the most of our membership (this was only our second trip, including the one when we activated it), but I thought it would be a good idea to do one final binge. Who knows, after junior arrives in September maybe we’ll rejoin—the diaper prices are killer.

As you probably know, Costco’s got a rep for lowlowlow prices, but only if you buy in large quantities. This is why we haven’t gone very often—we’re just two people! My parents are in the same boat, but they’re not the type to let a little thing like circumstance get in the way of bargain shopping. Their solution: they’ve turned my brothers’ old bedroom (not to mention mine) into a kind of storage facility. There’s enough coffee, cereal, and snack foods stacked in there to last through the next ice age. Seriously, if Homeland Security ever tells us to seal ourselves in with duct tape until further notice, my folks will be good to go. Since every child’s fear is to turn into her parents, Stephen and I thought long and hard about each purchase while trawling Costco’s aisles, limiting ourselves to things we know for sure we’ll use, and in quantity. Brita filters, Chock Full o’Nuts coffee, toilet paper. Y’know, basics. But we also picked up some English cucumbers—they were shrinkwrapped together, three for three dollars. Can’t beat that price! Along with that we got a six-pack of colored peppers, a ginormous package of grape tomatoes, and a full pound of organic mesclun, thinking we’d just eat a lot of salad. Well, we finished off the peppers and the tomatoes last night with some chicken sausage and the greens are about half gone, but as of this morning we still had two-and-a-third cukes left, and they were starting to feel soft. Perfect for cucumber salad!

This is a recipe my mom’s been making since I was a kid. For our wedding, which was a Sunday afternoon buffet, we had the caterer prepare one recipe from each of our families, and this was mine. It’s really bright tasting, refreshing in warm weather, fat-free, and about the simplest thing going. When my mom makes it for family gatherings, she’ll do a double or triple recipe. All this means it’s perfect for a Memorial Day barbecue, come to think of it… if only we were having one! Instead, we’ll just feast on cucumber salad for the next day or two, and reflect upon our bargains.

Cucumber Salad
Serves 6-8

6 cucumbers (or 2-3 English “burpless” ones)
1 t. salt
1 large onion
2 T. sugar
1 t. black pepper
2 T. chopped dill
1 T. water
½ cup rice vinegar

Slice cucumbers (with skin) as thinly as possible. Sprinkle with salt, mix, and place in a colander. Cover cukes with a plate and a weight to extract the liquid, and leave it to do its thing.

Halve and very thinly slice the onion. Put the onions in a small bowl with ice water, to soak out the sharpness. After at least an hour, drain the cucumbers and the onions. Mix the remaining ingredients, pour over the cucumbers, and marinate 15 minutes to overnight (overnight is much tastier).