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Spicy Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts

A sprinkle of toasted peanuts and bright cilantro contributes an intriguing dimension to this Thai-style salad, which is refreshing, pungent and spicy at the same time. Marinating the cucumber, onion and chili in the sweetened vinegar mixture mellows their distinctive flavors and softens their textures.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 English cucumber, cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño chili, thinly sliced
  • Leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. roasted peanuts

Directions:

In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Place the cucumber slices in a large bowl with the onion and chili. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables and stir to coat well. Let the vegetables stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to blend the flavors.

Just before serving, coarsely chop the cilantro and the peanuts. Stir the cilantro into the salad. Transfer the salad to a serving dish and top with the peanuts. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).