Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cucumber and Poppy Seed Salad (SCD)


I was flicking idly through my copy of Ottolenghi for inspiration the other day and my eyes lighted on a cucumber salad with chili and poppy seeds. I made a mental tour of the ingredients with my tongue, cucumber (cool and refreshing), poppy seeds (nutty and intriguingly musty),  chilli (fiery), coriander (fragrant) and then added some of my own: onion (pungent) and lime juice (sour).

My mouth began to water instantly as it recognised a perfect balancing act of tastes, whilst my eyes gratefully took in the image of green slices with just enough pillar box red chili to make the whole thing sing.

In less than five minutes the bowl of salad was on the table, waiting for a piece of baked turbot to nestle gently up to it, all white fat flakes. A big handful of dark leaves completed the trilogy and we sank our teeth in without further ado.

You can customise this salad with different herbs, basil, mint, lemon balm or maybe a little tarragon and the onions could be spring onions, chives, wild garlic leaves or even plain old brown skinned onion. The main elements of the salad should stay the same however, to get that zingy symphony of flavour and crunch.

This salad is SCD legal, but if you are in the first three months of the diet, or still experiencing symptoms then peel the cucumber, go easy on the onion and chilli and leave out the poppy seeds - just enjoy the flavours of the herbs and lime juice.

Cucumber & Poppy Seed Salad

(my way) 4 portions as a side

1 large cucumber

2 mild red chillies

Large handful of washed & roughly chopped coriander leaves

Half a small red onion or half a bunch of spring onions (scallions)

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Pinch sea salt (or dash of fish sauce/nam pla for non SCD)

Juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lime

Slurp of vegetable oil (I use organic rapeseed)

Slice the cucumber into long discs - diagonally across the width of the cucumber - about 5mm or 1/4 inch thick. Slice each of these discs into sticks and toss into a bowl.

Mince the onion finely - or slice the spring onions into little coins - and add to the bowl.

Taste the chillies (stalk end will be the hottest) and decide how fiery you want to go. Take out the seeds and chop them into fine dice or very thin strips and add to the bowl.

Add everything else except the lime juice and toss gently. 

Add half the lime juice and taste, then add more if you think it needs it. Limes can very sweet or sour, you never know! You may even want more than one lime to get that zing.

Toss again and serve.