Tuesday, May 3, 2011

cucumber radish salad

cucumber radish salad

Well, you guys are really just swell, you know that? A girl gets gushy and you leap in there with her and get gushy right back! Thanks! And in case you were wondering, it’s making me grin from ear to ear. I feel a gigantic internet hug coming on, do you?

This salad isn’t just any salad, so by pushing the post back, I’m sure I’ve bruised its feelings somewhat. By now it’s probably off in the corner somewhere skulking and pouting. It was all ready for prime time and then, unceremoniously and without warning, it was pushed aside.

cucumber radish salad

I feel badly about the hurt feelings, but I feel like I’ve good reason, what with getting all distracted with shiny things. It’s terrible – I’m that girl now – I’ve named the ring “the shiny”, and the shiny is seriously ruining my ability to get anything done: typing, chopping things, cleaning up – I catch a slight sparkle, and then it’s like goldfish – oh look, there’s a castle! – now what was I doing? Last night Andrew was talking to me only to realize that while I was listening, I was staring at the shiny. I think he’s thinking of switching it and replacing it with a ring pop. At least he’s guaranteed I’ll be listening to him again.

The funniest thing about getting engaged is that the second you do it, you get questions like, “Have you set a date?” and “Do you have a wedding theme?” To the first one, I politely say no, though I’m tempted to say that even though we got engaged three days ago, we already got married, and what they didn’t get the invitation? That second one puzzles me a bit, because it makes me think of actually making people adhere to an honest-to-goodness theme. Like, everyone has to come dressed as a pirate, or as your favorite character from “Lost”. Or better yet – an 80s’ costume wedding – bring on crimped hair, shiny spandex, and lacy, fingerless gloves a la Madonna circa “Like a Virgin” era. I could go on and on.

cucumber radish salad

But, do you see what I just did here? I totally shoved the salad aside again. I’m in trouble now. Let’s get right to it, shall we? Lest I make the vegetables angry.

This is the salad that I want to write poems about. I want to tell you, in ornate and beautiful prose just how incredible it is, and how you must drop everything right now and rush into the kitchen to make it. But somehow, in this case, I can’t seem to adequately put pen to paper – how do you adequately describe something that was your favorite childhood thing to eat? Remember, when you were a kid, and everything was larger than life? Days seemed longer. Birthday to birthday felt like an eternity. And those childhood favorite foods – they were the stuff dreams were made of.

cucumber radish salad

When I think of this salad, I think of spring in Russia. I think of the ice cracking and moving on the Neva River. I think of tiny crocuses poking out their buds from underneath the snow. I think of snow mixing with the mud to create a dingy slush that tattoos itself into the crevices of your boots. I think of my childhood next door neighbor Alex, who now, oddly enough, lives in Switzerland, whose birthday is on March 21, and whose mother would always make this salad for the kids for his birthday party every year. I think of his living room and a large rectangular table with all the kids around it, shoveling food in our mouths. And I think of me, shamelessly monopolizing this salad.

I could eat it every day. Imagine a large mixing bowl filled to the brim with these ingredients – did you imagine – I could eat that. All of it. In one sitting. The salad so simple it hardly needs a recipe: cucumbers, radishes, scallions, dill, sour cream and salt. That’s it. In the recent years, I’ve been playing around with greens and settled on arugula – it has the perfect bite to complement the sharpness of radish and the kick of the scallion. But the original version contains no greens – Russians don’t really have a place for them in salads – the real focus is on the vegetables themselves.

cucumber radish salad

And whereas I might be slightly biased (after all I grew up eating this salad and my cravings could be purely based on nostalgia) I’ve making it a lot around here and Melissa has fallen for this sald in the same way that I have as well. It feels so good to know that someone else, who might not have grown up with it, loves this salad as much as you do – it’s quite gratifying.

cucumber radish salad

So here is my missive to you – please make this salad. And please, as a favor to me, make it exactly as I tell you below – at least the first time around – before trying to adapt. If you think your taste buds want adaptation, by all means! But first – give this a go. I hope you like it. I have a feeling you will. This salad deserves all the spotlight in the world – and I hope it can someday forgive me for making it play second fiddle to my easily-distracted self. I promise – it’ll never happen again.

Cucumber Radish Salad

Ingredients:
8 cups arugula, roughly chopped
2 Persian cucumbers or 3 Kirby cucumbers, quartered lengthwise, then chopped into 1/8-inch pieces
6-7 medium sized radishes, halved and chopped into 1/8-inch semi-circles
3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
3-4 tablespoons sour cream, depending
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Preparation:

Place the arugula, cucumbers, radishes, scallions and dill into a large bowl. Add the sour cream and salt and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

Serves 2 to 4.

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29 Comments

  • 1

    this is one of my favorites. my parents made it all the time when we lived in Moscow (and once we moved to the states they’ve continued) just minus the arugula. LOVE it.

    May 3, 2011 10:20 pm
  • 2
    MIchelle said:

    My mom also made the same salad, but without the arugula, mmmmmm! I am US born but my parents are from Kiev so I totally get the nostalgia thing.

    Also LOVE it when I get the approval from non-Russians for Russian foods. Radishes and beets for all!!!

    May 4, 2011 1:20 am
  • 3
    alohacookiegirl said:

    My grandmother made this too,minus the argulua and called it Farmer’s Chop Suey. I think it also included celery. Can’t wait to make it now — it’s been ages! My grandparents were of Russian decent. Congratulations on your engagement!

    May 4, 2011 4:44 am
  • 4
    Molly said:

    This salad sounds just about perfect for the season. I will definitely try it your way first, but I see myself adding a touch of sweetness, maybe some golden raisins, the second time around. And congratulations again on your engagement. I know exactly what you mean by the sparkly distraction. It gets easier to concentrate over time. I promise.

    May 4, 2011 9:31 am
  • 5
    Caroline said:

    Be careful when driving w/ the shiny, that was always my problem!

    May 4, 2011 9:38 am
  • 6

    Gorgeous. Truly. I’m dreaming about it right now. I’ve got a whole grain salad in the fridge and this would be so great alongside it, the other half of the plate.

    May 4, 2011 9:57 am
  • 7
    Radish said:

    Mark – it really would be a perfect complement!

    May 4, 2011 11:23 am
  • 8

    i like your writing style…congrats on getting engaged ! salads are something i can eat a whole bowl of :) this is such a simple and easy one too ! never had it so at least i can look forward to making it :D

    May 4, 2011 12:17 pm
  • 9
    Christine said:

    That salad looks amazing.

    I have to say though, that if you decide on an 80s themed wedding, that I saw a NY based, ridiculous 80s cover band this weekend (Rubix Kube) and you should hire them. Also, invite me! I’ll bring gifts. :) Congrats again!

    May 4, 2011 3:27 pm
  • 10
    Arezou said:

    Can’t wait to try it! Maybe tonight….

    “the shiny” is beautiful! I would stare at it all day too :)

    May 4, 2011 4:04 pm
  • 11
    Mariya said:

    You’ve brought back a nice memory. Thanks :)

    May 4, 2011 4:44 pm
  • 12
    Ruth said:

    Love the salad, love the shiny, and love the news! You totally should be grinning ear to ear. :-)

    May 5, 2011 4:10 am
  • 13
    Julianne said:

    Salad looks amazing. Will be giving it a try.

    And just enjoy being ENGAGED for a while — don’t rush it!!!!

    May 5, 2011 11:35 am
  • 14
    Katie said:

    This sounds so good–and so simple. And the lack of an acid (vinegar, lemon) is interesting, something new (to me). I enjoy all of your stories and recipes, but especially like the ones about food you grew up on in Russia. Thanks for sharing.

    May 5, 2011 2:19 pm
  • 15
    Dana said:

    Oh my gosh I’m late with my congratulations! That is so awesome. I wish you the best happiness.

    May 5, 2011 6:05 pm
  • 16

    This totally takes me back to my childhood in Kiev. You are so right. It’s amazing how a simple salad can induce memories as specific as springtime for you or in my case…My Grandma Ana standing in the kitchen making her version of this salad, while I sat on the counter (8years old) waiting for my Kartoshka/Silodka feast to go along side it! YUM!

    May 6, 2011 12:59 pm
  • 17
    Radish said:

    Alina – the kartoshka/seledka feast is truly one of the best and most delicious of our childhood!!

    May 6, 2011 1:08 pm
  • 18
    Laurel Onfrichuk said:

    OMG! I love this salad!! I could eat the whole bowl myself! The only thing I did differently was shred the radish – love it!

    May 6, 2011 8:29 pm
  • 19
    Steve said:

    Was worried when I saw “Arugula” as an ingredient as I had no idea what that was but Wikipedia translated it into proper English as rocket so I’ll be giving this a try. Probably have to use Greek yoghurt as I don’t have any sour cream.

    May 24, 2011 4:52 am
  • 20

    [...] to get serious about radishes. If you want to know what to do with them, I’d suggest this salad. I found it on the blog Sassy Radish and ate it three days in a row last week two weeks ago (I [...]

    July 7, 2011 9:53 pm
  • 21

    [...] them and dip them in soft butter flaked with fleur de sel; I love to generously slice them to my favorite summer salad; I’m a huge fan of the butter-herb-radish crostini – I’ll talk about it next [...]

    July 7, 2012 3:18 pm
  • 22
    judith said:

    i’ve made this salad twice. the first time there wasn’t any dill in
    the house. salad,no good. this time,dill and all the rest.
    this is terrific and light and i thank you! i do love your site by the way..

    July 15, 2012 4:41 pm
  • 23

    Hi Olga,

    My name is Vanessa from Pennsylvania. I stumbled upon your blog while I was looking for a delicious salad recipe to accommodate a Russian radish I just bought at the farmers market not too long ago. While I’m still trying to learn the benefits of the Russian radish, I stayed on your blog because I loved reading your illustrative cooking entries and your friendly demeanor. Plus, you share the same name as my grandmother whom was also Russian!

    Don’t be too surprised if I come back because I added you on Google Reader :)

    October 22, 2012 3:04 pm
  • 24
    Radish said:

    Vanessa – thank you for your warm comment, and I’m so glad you liked the recipe (and other musings) and that you’ll be back! And hooray for namesakes!

    October 22, 2012 5:14 pm
  • 25
    dara said:

    I planted dill in my garden this year and vow to have sour cream on hand always this summer as I absolutely *adore* this salad. I have a big bowl now with cukes, radishes, a bit of sorrel, arugula, and some sprouts. I adore this simple combination that feels like such a treat! YUm, thanks for sharing and reminding my taste buds of my Eastern European roots.

    May 19, 2013 11:35 pm
  • 26
    olga said:

    dara – so glad you’re a fan!! we love this salad here!

    May 20, 2013 8:46 am
  • 27

    [...] and bacon). I’ve been this way since I can remember. As a child, nothing made happier than eating this salad. Although despite my meat indifference, I retained a strange fondness for bologna (don’t judge [...]

    June 6, 2013 8:04 am
  • 28
    Elinor said:

    Hi Olga!

    Do you think that I could substitute greek yogurt for the sour cream? :)

    June 25, 2013 12:29 pm
  • 29
    olga said:

    Elinor – I say yes reluctantly but with conviction. Reluctantly because it’s a childhood staple I don’t like to mess with; but with conviction because I make it with full fat greek yogurt all the time as my husband can’t handle sour cream :) so yes, go ahead!

    June 25, 2013 3:39 pm

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