Cool as a Cucumber

It’s been hot here.  The kind of hot that makes you lethargic and tricks you into thinking you’re not hungry.  Eating out always sounds better than turning on anything in the kitchen that will add heat to your already hot house—probably why Scott and I found ourselves at our favorite Oahu comfort spot three times last week, the always frigid cold Downbeat Diner.  If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend the food and drinks as well as the relief offered by the a/c.  I would probably try and get him to go tonight if I hadn’t already made a salad.

It’s what I’ve been craving when it gets unbearably hot, which is why I have made it a few times this summer.  This time I made it with two “new-to-me” ingredients—jaboticaba fruit from the Big Island and sugar cane vinegar.  I added the jaboticaba fruit, which closely resembles grapes, because I wanted to add some additional color to the very green main ingredients.  Added bonus, the skin of the fruit also adds a nice texture and is full of antioxidant and anti-cancer compounds.

The cane vinegar was an impulse purchase when I stopped at Shima’s in Waimanalo yesterday.  Popular in Filipino cooking, this mild vinegar is often used as an alternative to its sharper tasting counterparts.  It barely even smells like vinegar to me.  I’m looking forward to trying it in a marinade next.

I make this salad differently each time, so feel free to find the combination that suits your preference.  As long as you combine the cucumbers, honeydew melon, and dill, I think you’ll be happy with the result.  The quantities listed below will serve four as a side salad, or two for a main salad.

Cucumber, Melon, and Grape Salad

  • 3-4 slices of honeydew melon (remember to wash that melon before you cut into it!)
  • 1 Japanese or English cucumber, peeled
  • ½ cup of jaboticaba fruit, (use red grapes as a substitute)
  • 2 oz. of feta cheese
  • 4 Tbsp of sugar cane vinegar (use rice vinegar as a substitute)
  • 2 tsp of mirin
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 Tbsp of fresh dill

Cut the cucumber and (washed) melon into equal size pieces.  I like the pieces to be about 1 sq. inch, but you may prefer smaller pieces.  If using jaboticaba fruit, cut in half and remove seeds (you can eat the seeds, but too many are supposedly not good for you).  Combine these ingredients with the feta in a medium size bowl.  Mix the vinegar, mirin, dill, and salt together and pour over the salad.  Toss, chill, then serve.


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