Cucumber Salad with Grilled Romaine

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A bit complicated, but worth it.

This salad was part of three day, breakfast and lunch catering event. Recipe is by Chef Omri Aflalo.

One of the unusual techniques in this salad is compressing cucumber with a vacuum sealer. It’s a technique I’m not really familiar with, but the chef who gave me the outline of this recipe suggested it. You peel, seed, and dice the cucumber, put it into a vacuum bag, and then seal it at maximum pressure (technically minimum pressure) for about an hour.

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The cucumber looks like this when you start.

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And like this after it’s been compressed.

I didn’t find the taste or texture to be all that different, but the color change is very dramatic: the cucumbers change from a light green opaque color to a dark green translucent color.

Another unusual technique in this salad is grilled romaine. You start with heads of romaine like you would use for Caesar salad. Quarter them lengthwise, season with salt, pepper, and generous amounts of olive oil, then grill for about a minute on each side, maybe a little less.

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The whole thing comes together with a variety of interesting textures and flavors.

Cucumber Salad with Grilled Romaine
2 hearts of romaine
2 english cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1 block feta
parsley
chives
oregano
2 T champagne vinegar
1/2 C olive oil

In advance, shave the red onion as finely as you can, mix with 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, to make pickled red onions.

Quarter the romaine lengthwise, season with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and then grill on high heat for about a half a minute on each side. Let cool and then dice.

With one cucumber, peel, seed, and cut in into quarters lengthwise. Cut the quarters on a bias, compress with a little bit of water for 1 hour. With the other cucumber, cut in into quarters lengthwise and dice in the same way. Cut the bell pepper into long thin strips and then cut on the bias to match.

Make a simple vinaigrette with champagne vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and the minced herbs.
Toss the grilled romaine with some of the vinaigrette, and place on serving dishes.
Toss the cucumber, bell pepper, and feta with the vinaigrette and place on top of the romaine.
Top with a pinch of the pickled red onion.

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