If you’re familiar with San Francisco weather, you know how rare a warm summer night is here. Or a warm summer day, for that matter. Naturally, the family dinner that I cooked a few weeks ago—featuring four dishes that all involved heat—took place on one of the city’s hottest nights of the year. As I was melting away at the oven, dripping sweat onto the stove, and unable to open my full-length living room windows because my little niece was running around (kitchen windows were painted shut long ago), I started fantasizing about “the world’s most refreshing dish.” What would that be? Gazpacho? Watermelon salad? I thought it would be a fun challenge to think up a contender for the title.
After giving it some serious thought, I came up with this salad inspired by those little cucumber side dishes served at Thai restaurants. Normally, with ingredients like these, I’d want to include some heat—a little minced jalapeno, or some cayenne pepper in the dressing. But given my stated goal, this was not an option. Feel free to add it yourself, though, if you’d like. Just don’t tell me about it on the hottest night of the year.
Minty Cucumber Salad with Lime Dressing
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablepoons finely chopped red onion
4 smallish seedless cucumbers (about ¾ pound), peeled and sliced
½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup chopped mint leaves
⅓ cup shelled, roasted, unsalted peanuts
In a small bowl or a jar with a tightly fitting lid, combine lime juice, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add olive oil and whisk or shake vigorously until well combined. Add red onion and set aside for 15 to 30 minutes.
In a medium bowl, toss cucumbers, bell pepper, cilantro, mint, and peanuts. Add dressing and mix well.
Serves 2 to 4.