The weather has been so lovely in Seattle this past week that I’ve been craving refreshing food. Fro-yo and ice cream were the easy answers, but I nevertheless found the courage to spend some time in the kitchen (hence not being outside soaking up the sun) to prepare one of my favorite salads. It’s like a combination of two of my summer staples: guacamole and tzatziki (or, if you prefer, Pimm’s and mojito — but not liquid, and with cheese).
Also, Em and I were talking about the fact that this blog is in desperate need of some green. We would hate for you to believe that we only live on madeleines and buttery kouign amann (even though life would be so sweet if that were the case). No butter in this recipe, but the avocado makes a perfect substitute.
This salad is amazingly smooth and refreshing. You will feel clean after so much green, yet satisfied. The feta and avocado impart a velvety, almost buttery, texture. But, just before your palate gets too comfortable, the crunch of the cucumber reminds you that this salad has some character and won’t give up without a fight! Finally, the sour lime and the crisp mint cut through it and provide unity.
It is impressive to see all these ingredients forming a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Considering that each part is already pretty great, just try to imagine the end result… It’s like an explosion of textures and flavors in the mouth, working a little like a cocktail, with flavors layered on top of one another.
This is what I call summertime comfort food — in the spring. You’ll thank me in a few months when the warm weather is back.
I was very tempted to add a kick, like a pinch of piment d’Espelette or Cayenne pepper, but it would be a shame to bury all those subtle flavors under stronger ones. Plus the mint is the unifier, and the mint would not appreciate being overpowered.
Crunchy, silky and refreshing. Are you craving it now?
Serves 2 (main) or 4 (side)
- 2 large cucumbers
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1/2 cup chopped mint
- juice and zest of 1/2 lime
- 4 oz feta cheese, diced
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- pepper to taste (or lemon pepper)
Peel the cucumbers, cut them in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Cut cucumbers into 1/2-inch pieces and put in a colander. Generously sprinkle with salt and let sit in the sink for 30 minutes to drain. This will prevent your salad from getting watery. Quickly rinse and blot dry with paper towel.
While cucumbers are draining, dice the avocados into 1/2-inch pieces and put into a salad bowl. Drizzle with lime juice and toss gently.
Wash and coarsely chop the mint. Chop the lime zest.
In a bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice and lime zest to make dressing.
Add drained cucumbers, mint, feta cheese and dressing to the avocados and gently combine. Add pepper (or lemon pepper) to taste. Cover and let stand in refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
If you feel like impressing your guests (or just having a fancy meal), try to make domes using a ring mold. Fill the ring mold with the salad, and then remove the mold. It’s a great way to structure your food and enhance the presentation of your plate!
I’m warning you: If you happen to come over for dinner in the next few months, there is a good chance that you will be served this salad. (Or a fattoush, since I’m currently eating my way through Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook, Jerusalem.)