Meatless Monday – Gently Pickled Cucumber Salad

    Gently Pickled Cucumber Salad is a refreshing way to start the week.

    My grandmother (a.k.a. Ma-mar) started all of her salads by macerating cucumber slices in vinegar and a bit of dried oregano. Finding crisp slices of the juicy gourd within the other garden ingredients, was essentially a prize – one that flooded your mouth with the herbaceous and acidic marinade. On this Meatless Monday, I offer you a recipe for Gently Pickled Cucumber Salad that draws inspiration from Ma-mar’s signature dressing, but in this simplified version I removed the most bothersome hindrance between fork and cucumber – lettuce. Of course you can dress it up with Kalamata olives and feta, but why mess with a beautiful thing?

    1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out with a spoon, and sliced into thin half moons
    2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced thin
    1 tablespoon cider vinegar
    1 tablespoon white vinegar
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    ⅛ teaspoon salt
    Pinch black pepper
    4 ounces white button mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
    2 plum tomatoes, diced
    2 tablespoons minced parsley
    2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

    In a large bowl, combine the sliced cucumber and celery. Sprinkle on the cider vinegar, white vinegar, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. Stir to incorporate these ingredients and allow the mixture to marinate for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all pieces get equal exposure to the vinegar.

    Gently fold in the sliced mushrooms, diced tomatoes, and minced parsley then allow this mixture to marinate in the vinegars for another 10 minutes.

    Drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons of good olive oil over the marinated vegetables; stir and serve.

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    Kerry Stanton is a recipe writer, culinary instructor, and restaurant consultant. She writes for Dirty Water Media and the Boston Herald. “I will not settle for anything less than exceptional food at every meal. This doesn’t mean that I demand excessive extravagance or prized ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner - I just want well-cooked, properly seasoned food, presented beautifully. I think we all deserve this much.”