Find your tiny cucumbers at the farmers market
Mexican sour gherkin cucumbers (also known as cucamelons) are really cool. They look like marble-sized striped watermelons and taste like a juicier cucumber. They’re not easily available but you can substitute baby Lebanese (short) cucumbers, often sold as ‘qukes’. This salad typically includes beans and corn but this version is a refreshing light alternative. The role of the cucumber is to cool and make spicy foods more enjoyable, so this salad is the perfect coolant for some Mexican heat.
We use zesty lime dressing for most of the dishes in our restaurant, as it is so fresh and uplifting. Boiling the zest really concentrates the flavor of the lime, which is so important in Latin cooking. This recipe makes more than you need for one recipe but it stores well and can be used in a wide range of salads and salsas.
Cool Cucumber Salad
FOR THE SALAD
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 2 fennel bulbs, finely shaved and tops roughly chopped
- 20 ounces Mexican sour gherkins or other cucumbers
- 9 ounces seedless white grapes, cut in half
- 1 ounces lilliput capers, or baby capers
- 1 large handful mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 large handful bronzed fennel tops or dill, roughly chopped (optional)
- 5 ounces zesty lime dressing, see below
- 5 1/2 oz salted ricotta, finely chopped
FOR THE ZESTY LIME DRESSING
- finely grated zest of 3 limes
- 10 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 11 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
Make the Dressing
- Combine the lime zest, 3 1/3 fl oz of the lime juice and the sugar in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the zest is soft.
- Transfer to a food processor or blender and process, gradually adding the olive oil and remaining juice, until emulsified. Season with salt. Makes 2 cups.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Make the Salad
- Combine the sesame and chia seeds in a dry frying pan and cook over medium–low heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
- Combine the cucumber, fennel, grapes, capers, mint and bronzed fennel tops in a bowl. Add the toasted seeds and pour in the dressing. Toss to combine.
- Arrange on a serving plate and sprinkle with salted ricotta.