On Saturday mornings when my husband Dan works, my daughters and I like to be lazy, hang out as long as possible in bed, and watch the Food Network. On one of these mornings, Hayley, while watching Giada DeLaurentis make cucumber salad, had a completely different idea. “Mommy”, Hayley said, “I think I can make this better.” Smiling at Hayley’s confidence that she could “out recipe” one of her (and my) idols, I replied, “Game on. Whatchu got?”
Fortunately, my fridge and pantry was stocked with everything we needed so we got right to work. But first, I took a look around my (very) clean kitchen and said to myself, “don’t squash her creativity let her do her thing even if it is (very) messy.” Because although Hayley has many wonderful qualities being neat and tidy isn’t one of them.
Hayley was quick to get started. She took out the cucumbers and stood on her tippy toes to reach the fat free Greek yogurt. She was substituting fat free Greek yogurt for the high fat sour cream. Wow, she actually knew what she was doing. My girl was determined. Things were looking good and as her sous chef I was following her instructions and slicing the cucumbers. My outlook was good, I was beginning to think positively that she may actually pull this off.
Suddenly I hear a sound that went right through my core, her whine “Mommy, I can’t remember what that green stuff is called”. Just like that (snap), I was quickly reminded that as independent as Hayley seems to be, this girl is in fact only 6. “BUT DON’T TELL ME,” she shouted and pointed a finger at me “I’M DOING THIS MYSELF!” She was getting so frustrated and I so badly wanted her to get this right…for her sake and mine. Her confidence was sort of on the line and I knew I was going to have to eat this salad when finished. I gently said, and for all of those who have daughters you know what I mean by “gently”, “Hayley, if you can’t think of the name tell me what you have eaten the green stuff in.” While Hayley was hesitant to tell me because she wanted to figure it out herself; I was losing my patience. At least this gave the cucumbers time to drain. I couldn’t go on like this anymore watching her stare into the spice cabinet sounding out every herb and spice I have…and I have a ton, “Hayley, staring at the spices won’t work. I’m your sous chef it’s my job to help you. I promise it will still be your idea.” She reluctantly said, “the green stuff in tuna.” I offered, “Scallions? Celery?” Now she was beginning to lose her patience with me, “No mommy, you take it out of here” pointing to the spice cabinet, “and you put it in chicken soup.” Ah-Ha, with excitement I shouted, “DILL!” I handed her the dill and she took one whiff and smiled. Phew. We were back in action.
Hayley continued to work on the dressing as I worked on making sure the cucumbers were thoroughly drained of their excess moisture. Chef Hayley poked a spoon into her dressing, a move she saw chefs do on cooking shows, let out a “Yum” and quipped that “This is good. It doesn’t need anything else” referring, with utmost confidence, to the olive oil in Giada’s recipe. When we were both finished Hayley, as neatly as possible, (poor thing, she tried…she really did) combined the cucumbers with the dressing until they were well incorporated. Her salad masterpiece was finished. Now it was the moment of truth. The taste test.
It was delicious! And I am not just saying that. Seriously, I would buy this from my local gourmet market to eat and even serve to guests. It is the perfect salad for a spring or summer barbecue. And I have to admit, she may only be 6 but she was right. It didn’t need the oil or the sour cream. And I know I may be bias, but this recipe may just be better than the original.
- 2 English cucumbers, peeled
- 1⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 teaspoons dried dill (to your liking) or 3 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
- Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, carefully slice the cucumbers into thin slices (about 1/16 inch thick).
- Place the sliced cucumbers in a colander and toss well with the kosher salt. Place the colander over a bowl and let the cucumbers drain it's liquid for about 10-15 minutes.
- While the cucumbers are draining whisk together the fat free plain Greek yogurt, white balsamic vinegar, and dill. Set aside.
- Using your hands, squeeze out the excess water from the cucumbers. Work in small batches to get out as much moisture as possible.
- When you have removed the excess moisture, toss the cucumbers in the dressing until well coated.