17th Century Italian Cucumber Salad

cucumber salad - trustinkim

I stumbled upon this recipe while searching for recipes to use the cucumbers that are growing in my garden. This blogger has a love for old recipes, and published this one, which is her version of a 17th century dish. She says it is “An interpretation of a dish described in Salvatore Massonio’s Archidipno overo dell’insalata e dell’vso di essa, published in Venice in 1627.”

It’s a really simple recipe, as are many of the best vegetable recipes. It should be prepared an hour or two before you plan to eat it.

I substituted sweet onion for regular, as I often do, and I peeled my cucumber because the peel on this variety is a little too bitter for me. In the original recipe the basil is added before refrigerating, but I like to add it at the end so that it retains its green colour. My version of the recipe is for two, and the measurements are approximate.

Please, please, please, don’t use dried basil for this recipe. It’s just not right. It really doesn’t taste like fresh basil. If you have no fresh basil, I’d opt to leave it out. You can freeze basil, so it retains the fresh flavour; if you use previously frozen basil in this salad it will be darker than fresh basil, but will still taste good.

After eating the salad I used the remaining dressing to pickle some cucamelons – these adorable little cucumbers that resemble a miniature watermelon. It was this summer’s garden experiment. The verdict? Cute, but I prefer a regular cucumber. The peel to inside ratio is a little high on the peel side.

cucamelon salad - trustinkim

What you need for two people:

  • 1 small cucumber or 1/2 an English cuke
  • a small chunk of an Onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • a few pinches of salt
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped

What you do:

  1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl or large jar.
  2. Cut the cucumber in half, then slice it lengthwise. Slice as thinly as you can, using a mandoline if you have one. Cut the onion in half and slice it as thinly as you can. Place the cucumber and onion in the container with the dressing and toss it well so it’s all coated.
  3. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
  4. Before serving chop the basil finely and stir it in.

Enjoy!

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