I have a glaring shortcoming as a home cook, and that is that I am salad-challenged. It's not that I don't enjoy a good salad. I LOVE them. The problem is, they never turn out quite how I want them to. My dressings end up too oily or too acidic, the proprotions of leaves to other vegetables are all wrong, or the whole salad is just downright boring.
The other day my neighbor made a fantastic salad that I loved so much I decided to make it my mission to improve my salad-making skills. I turned to my cookbooks for a recipe and some inspiration, and I found this gem in an Indian cookbook.
Cucumber is always refreshing, and with peanuts and coconut added into the mix, the result is a crunchy and satisfying salad. The dressing is outrageously simple and marries two of my favorite flavors, lemon and cumin.
(adapted from Bombay Cafe by Neela Paniz)
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
3 tbsp unsalted shredded coconut (or fresh grated coconut if you have it)
1 serrano chile, seeds and stem removed, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
about 6 leaves romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, cumin, sugar, and salt.
In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, serrano, cilantro, and coconut.
Pour in the lemon juice mixture and toss well. Set aside 15 minutes at room temperature.
Add the peanuts and lettuce and toss until the dressing is evenly distributed.