Friday, October 16, 2009

Uborkasalata

We grow several varieties of cucumbers in our garden. Each variety is used to make a different kind of pickle. The cukes are also used in many different types of salad. Towards the end of the gardening season the overgrown cukes are used to make one of my favorite salads—Uborka Salata—or Hungarian Cucumber Salad. Hungarian cuisine is one of my favorites and I enjoy making it as much as I do eating it.

I learned to make this salad many years ago after falling in love with it while traveling in Hungary. The recipe calls for paprika, which is a staple ingredient in Hungarian cuisine. It is necessary to use real Hungarian paprika. It isn’t as difficult to find as you might think--I can now find it in the ethnic aisle in my small-town market. I use the hotter paprika if I want the dish to have a bit of zip; the sweeter paprika if a milder version of the salad is desired. Either way the dish is delicious and surprisingly refreshing.
As for the cucumbers, use any type you like. If they are very large, they must be peeled and seeded. Large does not necessarily refer to length, but to diameter. This is not necessary with smaller/thinner cucumbers. Although this salad can be eaten immediately, it tastes best when the flavors are allowed to meld for an hour or two. It is spectacular the next day. At this time of year, this is often served as a side dish with Maple Glazed Butternut Squash Stuffed with Meatballs (see this earlier post).
Uborka Salata
3 cucumbers
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 medium onion, sliced very thin
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
¼ c. distilled (white) vinegar
Pinch of sugar (optional, I prefer the salad without this ingredient)

Slice the cucumbers very thin. Peel and seed them if they are very large or have a large amount of seeds. Place the sliced cucumbers in a stainless steel or glass bowl. Sprinkle with the kosher salt. Let the cucumbers set for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours. Pour off the liquid and discard, do not rinse the cucumbers. Transfer the cucumbers to a bowl and add the thinly sliced onion, paprika and vinegar. Toss to mix. Serve immediately or set aside to allow the flavors to meld before eating.

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