Why do I call this an American salad? Our country combines many groups, religions and races, each keeping its individuality, staying connected to its history and often claiming its own neighborhoods while interacting with every other group — forming a more delicious whole, just like this wonderful salad.
Here we have the Latin combination of lime, serrano chili and cilantro; mint from the Middle East; olive oil from the Mediterranean; rice syrup from Asia; and cucumber from India.
If you have a mandoline or a food processor, use it to slice the cucumber, as thinly as possible. (First cut the cucumber into thirds crosswise so that the strips are not too long.) If you have a crinkle- or waffle-cut blade, either will make the cucumber slices very attractive. Discard the first and last slices that are all dark green peel.
To add some crunch, more chew, more protein and more of Asia, mix some quickly cooked tofu into the greens: Cut four 1/8-inch slices off a block of extra-firm tofu; press out excess water with a kitchen towel.
Brush a little oil onto a skillet; heat over medium heat. Sprinkle paprika onto both sides of the tofu; place in hot pan. Cook until one side is brown; turn. Cook the other side until brown. Sprinkle with a little soy sauce. Cut into bite-size squares; mix into lettuce before stirring in the dressing.
American cucumber salad
Prep: 12 minutes
2 tablespoons each: lime juice, olive oil
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup
1 serrano chili, finely minced
2 tablespoons each, minced: cilantro, fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups salad greens
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
Sauteed tofu cubes, optional; see tips
1. Add the lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, brown-rice syrup, serrano, herbs and salt in a small jar with a lid. Cover; shake vigorously until well combined.
2. Mix half of the dressing with the greens and half into the cucumbers. If adding tofu, mix it into the greens. Divide the greens among four plates. Nest the cucumbers in the center of each.
Per serving: 89 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 215 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.