In her cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking, legendary Southern chef Edna Lewis writes about growing up in the early 20th century on a farm in Virginia, the granddaughter of an emancipated slave. It was a simple life of hard work and good food, freshly prepared with ingredients grown in the family’s garden.
During the summers they grew cucumbers and ate this pickled salad every day. Edna was a masterful cook — she knew that in order to get maximum flavor it’s important to slice the cucumbers very thin, salt them and let them sit for about an hour to release their excess liquid before marinating them in a mixture of white vinegar and sugar. The extra step prevents a watery, limp salad. Her recipe calls for finely chopped chervil, which I don’t grow. A good substitute is either parsley, tarragon or dill.
This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy summer cucumbers. I have also pickled thinly sliced red onions in a similar brew, using a bit less sugar. Set out a bowl of either cukes or onions, or both, when you next grill beef, chicken or shrimp. They’ll keep in the fridge for a day or two, so go ahead and make extra.
3 cucumbers, peeled
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. finely cut chervil (parsley or dill)
1/8 tsp. pepper
Slice cucumbers very thin with either a sharp knife or a mandoline. Place slices into a colander set inside a large bowl. Sprinkle them with the salt, stir and put in refrigerator for about one hour. Remove colander from bowl and toss out the liquid released by the cucumbers. Mix the vinegar and sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Add to the cucumbers, sprinkle with chervil, parsley or dill and return to fridge.