Today I wanted to share a special recipe from a book that I have been devouring lately. This grated cucumber salad is from Heidi Swanson’s latest book “Near & Far”. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it here, but Heidi is the author that inspires me the most. If you’re not familiar with her work, I encourage you to go take a look at her gorgeous website 101 Cookbooks, her writing feels warm and elegant, her photographs are minimalist and thoughtful, and her recipes, really inspiring and always inspired.
Her cooking is vegetarian – which suits me well since I rarely eat meat, I save these dishes for family or special gatherings – but never sad, there is always a spice or an herb to brighten her meals. When I read her blog, it always inspires me to cook right away ! .
Her recipes make me a better cook, they are multidimensional, I love the different layers of flavors that she incorporates in each dish. I think that with every recipe she always push further than what I would do myself : her recipes associate grains and vegetables that I would have thought of but there is always this little twist : a condiment, an herb, a pesto, some seeds, a spice mix that give another level of complexity to the recipe.
Her last book “Supernatural Everyday” is probably the book from which I have cooked the most. Some recipes are not immediately doable in my French kitchen, she lives in California and our local ingredients are not the same, but I have always found substitutions and many of her recipes are in my weekly rotation.
I was immediately smitten with her new book “Near & Far” because one part is dedicated to her kitchen in California and the other to recipes inspired by her travels. We go to Italy, Japan, France, India and Morocco. It’s quite interesting to see some cuisines that I’m quite familiar with (France, Italy & Morocco) through her eyes.
When I first flipped through the book, I spotted this recipe for cucumber salad from the Moroccan section. This recipe has all the flavors that I love from Morocco but is not a traditional dish : preserved lemon, almonds, olives. Also, and it’s really anecdotal, the recipe calls for fresh oregano that is quite difficult to find here in its fresh form (we often have dried oregano in shops) but as it happens, I have an oregano bush in my garden (or waste land as my boyfriend calls it…), so I took it as a sign !
(I bet you can swap the fresh oregano for another fresh herb, but if you are lucky enough to find some, give it a try)
Grated Cucumber Salad / Oregano, Olives, Almonds
Recipe by Heidi Swanson from Near & Far,
1 garlic clove
1/4 fine grain sea salt
20 oregano leaves, fresh
30 g of almonds, minced and toasted
3 medium cucumbers, seeded and grated
1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of honey
15 black olives, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp of minced preserved lemon rind
2 tbsp of olive oil
1. In a mortar place the garlic and salt and use the pestle to form a paste. Incorporate the origano then the almonds. Work the mix into a sandy texture and set aside.
2. Wrap the grated cucumber in a clean towel and press to extract the juices. Transfer to a bowl and fluff with your fingers. Add lemon juice and honey, then the olives and minced lemon, stir well.
3. Serve the cucumber topped with the almond mixture and drizzle with olive oil.