This is a cross between a pickle and a salad, adapted from a pickled cucumber and shallot recipe in Chez Panisse Vegetables. It's about as simple as it gets as far as cucumber salads go, though it does require a brief salting, a step that makes all the difference in the final salad—salting ensures the cucumbers will better soak up the dressing. I like this salad on its own, though it is delicious atop toasts slathered with hummus, too. —Alexandra Stafford
vinegar such as white balsamic, white wine, or rice
Fresh herbs such as basil, dill, mint or parsley
Olive oil (optional)
Peel cucumbers. Slice one cucumber crosswise and taste. If it tastes bitter, halve the cucumber lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, then slice the cucumber into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick pieces. Otherwise, slice the cucumber into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick rounds. Repeat with remaining cucumber.
Peel the onion or shallots, cut in half, and slice as thinly as possible. Place them in a large bowl with the cucumbers and toss with the salt. Let sit for 45 minutes.
Rinse the cucumbers and onions, drain, and taste for salt. If they are too salty, rinse and drain again. Place in a clean towel and press lightly to dry. Transfer cucumbers to a clean bowl and sprinkle with vinegar. Toss with herbs. Taste. Often I find I don't even need to add oil, but add a splash if you wish. Serve. Note: If you want to make this ahead, add the herbs just before serving.