Yes, it is a thing, or was, as recently as March of this year. Honestly, it is difficult to keep up with all the food trends recently. Just yesterday, I read that mould was the new “BIG THING”. Not like Cheese Mould or something that we normally do our best to avoid, but a Japanese strain that chefs are apparently clamouring for.
Not sure the mould thing will catch on in my world, but the smashing cucumber thing really caught my attention. Seriously, is there a better way to release the days frustrations than by beating up an innocent vegetable?
The theory is that a smashed cucumber will have many more nooks and crannies for dressing to hide in and adhere to than boring old slices. This in turn will give your salad a much better flavour because that awesome dressing you just spent 10 minutes making actually has something to stick to.
The theory is correct. Move over clean lines and smooth sides of sliced veggies, hello ragged edges of the smashed!
Yes, I can hear your arguments now… “professional chefs have staff to clean up after them while I do not”. No worries. You can still have fun smashing veggies provided you remember to place said veggies in a plastic bag and hold the end closed while you hammer away.
Perhaps hammer is too strong a term. Really, you just want to GENTLY knock the veg with a meat mallet , or the back of your biggest knife or even the bottom of a heavy frying pan, until it starts to break apart. Then, remove from the plastic bag and break it apart with your fingers into unequal jagged chunks.
The original recipe for this was published in Bon Appetit March 2017. I haven’t changed much, except to add some lemon zest and I made the quantities simpler to follow.
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup greek-style yogurt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Tiny pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
4 small cucumbers, peeled
10 medium radishes, cleaned and trimmed
In small bowl, mix garlic and lemon zest and lemon juice and set aside.
In large bowl, whisk yogurt, oil and sugar, season with salt & pepper. Whisk in lemon juice mixture.
Working in batches, place cucumbers and radishes inside of a plastic bag. Holding the bag securely closed, gently pound veggies with a meat mallet or bottom of heavy pan until broken but not smashed beyond recognition. Tear into smaller pieces with your hands and add to yogurt-lemon mixture. Stir well, season with salt and pepper.
The instructions on Epicurious say to let stand 2 hours, but I got a late start on making dinner so it sat about 15 minutes, while I finished cooking the Za’atar Chicken Breasts. Maybe next time, I will have the luxury of a 2 hour rest for this salad, but honestly, it was pretty good without the wait. Whether it sits or not, I will be making this one again. Not only for the flavour, but also because it is tons of fun to smash a cucumber!!