By AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN
Crisp, crunchy and cool, this salad offers complexity with little effort. Creamy Roasted Garlic and Miso Dressing provided savory notes of umami and mellow sweetness. To avoid watering down the salad, we drained the sliced cucumbers on paper towels for a few minutes. Generous handfuls of fresh mint and basil brought layers of herbal flavor. Crunchy chopped peanuts played off the nuttiness of the dressing beautifully and offered great textural contrast.
Spicy Thai chilies brought all the flavors into focus and ensured that the rich dressing didn’t make the salad feel too heavy. Be sure to slice the cucumbers 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick. This salad is best served within 1 hour of being dressed.
CUCUMBER SALAD WITH CREAMY ROASTED GARLIC DRESSING (OR A MISO ONE)
Start to finish: 25 minutes
4 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced very thin
3/4 cup of Creamy Roasted Garlic and Miso Dressing (recipe follows)
2 Thai chilies, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, chopped coarse (optional)
Spread cucumber slices evenly over paper towel-lined baking sheet and let drain for 15 minutes.
Gently toss cucumbers with dressing, chilies, mint, and basil in large bowl until evenly coated. Let salad sit for 5 minutes, then toss again. Season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with peanuts, if using, and serve immediately.
Creamy Roasted Garlic Dressing:
Makes about 1 cup
Start to finish: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Pair this dressing with sturdy greens. You will need about 2 tablespoons of dressing per 2 cups of greens.
3 large garlic heads (3 ounces each), outer papery skins removed and top third of head cut off and discarded
1/4 cup white wine vinegar 3
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 F. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and roast until golden brown and very tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Remove garlic from oven and carefully open foil packets. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from skins (you should have about 6 tablespoons); discard skins.
Process garlic, vinegar, water, honey, mustard, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in blender until smooth, about 45 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed. With blender running, slowly add oil until incorporated, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; whisk to recombine before using.)
Creamy Roasted Garlic and Miso Dressing:
Omit thyme and pepper. Substitute rice vinegar for white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon white miso for mustard, and vegetable oil for olive oil.
Nutrition information per serving with the garlic dressing: 165 calories; 96 calories from fat; 11 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 454 mg sodium; 14 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 4 g protein.