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The Vegetarian

Cucumber Salad: Delight for Fans of 'Crispy Water'

June 09, 1988|DIANA SHAW | Shaw is a free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

Virtually without vitamins or nutrients, the cucumber is essentially "crispy water." A member of the squash family, this staple of salad bars and pickle jars has been cultivated for about 7,000 years and derided for many of them.

Before you concur, try the following, based on a recipe I found in an old French cookbook. My version calls for lentil salad in place of the ground beef used in the original.

CUCUMBERS WITH LENTIL SALAD

2 large cucumbers

1/4 cup diced red onion

2 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced or pressed

2 teaspoons capers

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Juice of 2 lemons

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups cooked lentils

1/4 to 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

Freshly ground black pepper

Peel cucumbers and halve lengthwise. Remove seeds, leaving cavity down middle. Poach in boiling water 15 minutes. Drain and cool.

Combine onion, garlic, capers, mint, basil, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil in mixing bowl. Stir well and pour over lentils. Add feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and carrots, tossing to combine.

Fill cucumber halves with mixture and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.

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