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charred onion and cucumber salad (vegan!)

January 6, 2019

In the middle of the winter, it’s easy to get tired of your favorite soups and heavy, stewed dishes. After a few weeks of holiday eating, I was craving something light and fresh. This recipe is from bon appetit.

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1 medium English hothouse cucumber, sliced into rounds

1 small to medium onion

1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced into rings, seeded if desired

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

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GRILL DIRECTIONS:

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Combine chile and 2 Tbsp. vinegar in a small bowl; set aside.

Place onions on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Turn to coat. Grill onions directly on grate until lightly charred and softened, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with remaining 2 Tbsp. vinegar; let cool.

Coarsely chop ½ cup grilled onion and return to bowl. Add chile and soaking liquid, cucumber, dried oregano, and 2 Tbsp. oil and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with more oil.

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NO GRILL DIRECTIONS:

Heat a cast-iron to be ripping hot on the stovetop, probably at least medium-high heat. Combine chile, vinegar, cucumber, oregano, and oil. Set aside.

Heat onions on cast iron until charred. Remove from pan and transfer to separate bowl with vinegar. Let soak five minutes, then combine everything.

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The seasoning of just red wine vinegar and oregano makes it taste exactly like an East coast style sub sandwich/hoagie. I found it extremely nostalgic. This was great brought along to lunch and used to top salads, sandwiches, and grains. The flavor is simple and uncomplicated. Next time, I will experiment with charred onions and cucumbers by adding some other spices, so it doesn’t taste like a sandwich. Mark suggested adding some toasted cumin. I think I will try something even more balanced and complex, like dukkah, or numbing xi’an spice. Or maybe it’s better to go simple, with some fresh dill and other herbs, and a pinch of sugar to bring out the caramelization of the onions. Whatever you do, charring the onions does add something interesting, so experiment and let me know what you think!

(If you live on the East coast, this red-wine-vinegar-and-oregano combo might not be all that exciting, so can I recommend slicing cucumbers and adding some garlicky Syrian yogurt and tahini sauce? It’s one of my favorite ways to eat a cucumber.)

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recipe adapted from bon appetit by friedsig

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