cucumber, mustard and dill salad

Thanksgiving 2012 came and went.  It amazes me how quickly the meal can be eaten.  All the time spent preparing for the big day – one day devoted to what recipes to try, and what ones to remove from the menu because they weren’t a hit.  One day pulling together the shopping list, dividing perishables from non-perishables for easier navigation through the mayhem that is the grocery store.  And four days of shopping and cooking as if all of New Jersey was coming to my house for dinner.  I have hosted for the past 10 years, ever since my fist child was born, bringing both sides of the family to my house.  Over the years I have tried three different turkey stuffings trying to find my own, broken potato ricers, forgotten pre-prepared dishes in the garage fridge and learned to brine a turkey.  It’s always an adventure hosting a crowd ranging from 10-15 every year but I thrive on it.  This dish is an ode to my dad’s mother who made this with cucumbers, onions and vinegar.  My mom took to making that dish herself and I continue to make that version as well.  This one is a little more dressed up I like to think, and it kicks off my Thanksgiving meal prep.  Plus it gives me an excuse to buy dill which I never do any other time of the year.  I feel a sense of accomplishment getting this one easy dish out of the way, before tackling the rest of the groceries….way too many groceries…just look at all of them.  I need a drink.

cucumber, mustard and dill salad (adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

4  tsp white wine vinegar
2  tsp Dijon mustard
1/2  tsp salt, or to taste
1  tsp sugar
2  TB olive oil
1  large seedless cucumber (usually comes plastic wrapped), peeled, halved and seeded
2  TB fresh dill, chopped

get started on the cucumber salad:

Peel cucumber and halve lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape down the center to remove the seeds.  Using a mandolin (or sliced manually), slice cucumbers in 3/16″ thick slices.  Whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt and sugar in a bowl, and then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined.  Add cucumbers to the vinaigrette, tossing to coat.

note:  I felt 1/8″ slices were too thin and 1/4″ slices were too chunky, hence the kooky 3/16″ thickness….go with what you like.  Oh and adding crushed red pepper is always welcome!

roasted potato salad with mustard dressing

golden potatoessliced golden potatoes

I have made and eaten a ton of coleslaw this summer, so when I needed a side dish to go with my ribs recently, I went the potato salad route this time.  I love traditional potato salad, but was really looking for a spin on it.  I decided on this one from Cooking Light July 2006, but because I wanted more than just potatoes and onions, I made some additions.  It worked out.  You can check out the original recipe and look to see what I did, and decide how you want your dish to be.  My whole thought with choosing this recipe was that the mustard and vinegar would cut through the heavy barbecue flavor of the ribs.  Plus, I didn’t have to boil or peel potatoes!  Happiness!

I found this recipe easy to make and was exactly what I was looking for.  I loved the sherry vinegar and mustard combination which separated this recipe from the usual mayo salad.  I changed it up a little (because I’m a pain) and added some expected elements like the boiled eggs and celery.  Go with what you might have in your fridge too – snap peas, scallions, bell pepper, cheddar cheese…etc.  Once you have the base salad, I don’t think you can mess it up.  This is a kickin’ side.  Enjoy!

roasted potato salad with mustard dressing (inspired from Cooking Light July 2006)

3  pounds golden potatoes, unpeeled, cut into one inch pieces
1  TB olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
red chili flakes
non-stick cooking spray
6  slices prosciutto, diced
2  cups Vidalia onions, diced
2  garlic cloves, minced
3  stalks celery, sliced
3  TB whole grain mustard
3  TB reduced fat mayonnaise
1 1/2  TB honey
1 1/2  TB sherry vinegar
1/4  cup fresh parsley, chopped
3  hard-boiled eggs, chopped

get started on the salad:

Preheat oven to 400. Toss first four ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 400 for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring once.  Meanwhile, add sliced prosciutto to a non-stick pan on medium heat and brown until starting to get crisp on edges.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Coat the same pan with non-stick spray and add onions on medium-low heat.  Cook 15 minutes until golden brown and caramelized, stirring often.  Add garlic to the pan and cook for another minute.  Add onion mixture to bowl with prosciutto.  Add celery and potatoes to onions and prosciutto.  Stir to combine.

prosciuttocelery, prosciutto and onion

Combine mustard, mayonnaise, honey and vinegar in a small bowl and stir with a whisk.  Add mustard mixture and parsley to potato mixture and toss to combine.  Add eggs last and gently toss.  Adjust potato salad with more mayonnaise or mustard depending on your taste.

roasted potatoesroasted potato salad

note:  This recipe serves 8.  Serving size is 1 cup.