Do you remember me saying that I had to get on the cucumber train because of all the cucumbers I had? Well, I DID! Last night Ernie grilled some chicken and we had leftover brown rice with spiced greens on the side. Then I went to one of my favorite cookbooks and added this cucumber salad to the plate. I LOVED it. I didn't have quite enough cayenne (can you tell I need to make a Penzey's run?) but it was spicy enough with the serrano. Wonderful, wonderful dinner!

Crunchy Cucumber Salad with Crushed Peanuts

From 5 Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate

2 English or other unwaxed cucumbers, chopped into 1/4-inch dice (about 3 cups)

1 medium green serrano chile, minced (seed first if you prefer)

1/2 cup peanuts, preferably raw, but toasted, unsalted ones will do

2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more if needed

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds


Place diced cucumbers in medium bowl along with chile. Using coffee grinder or food processor, pulse peanuts until they are reduced to a coarse powder. (You don't want big chunks of peanuts, nor do you want a fine powder; stop grinding somewhere in between.) Add peanuts to cucumbers, along with lemon juice, salt and sugar, and mix well. Taste and adjust salt, sugar and lemon juice as needed. The salad should be slightly tart.

To make tadka: Place cayenne in a little pile on top of the salad. Do not stir it in yet. Heat oil in small skillet or butter warmer over high heat. When it begins to smoke, add mustard seeds, covering pan with a lid or spatter screen. As soon as seeds stop sputtering, pour oil over cayenne. Stir dressing in and serve at room temperature or cold.