Crispy Blistered Cucumber Salad; Because Yes, You Should Be Cooking Your Cucumbers

When juicy, crunchy produce hits a scorching-hot pan or the grill, something good happens. Think about blistered watermelon, pineapple, zucchini, or tomatoes. Just the part touching the hot, hot heat softens and then blisters to a char, while the rest of the ingredient stays mostly raw. That means that in one bite, you get an exciting mix of hot and cool, crunch and caramelization. With this in mind, a blistered cucumber doesn’t sound so weird, does it? It actually starts to sound good. (Spoiler: It is.)

When cucumbers are blistered in a pan, the floral freshness of the cucumber doesn’t go away; rather, it’s coupled with a deeply savory, crisp crust. They’re good on their own as a snack, with dill and red onion (like a pickle), peaches and mint, blistered tomatoes and soft cheese, or, here, a crunchy, spicy sprinkle inspired by dukkah, a Middle Eastern seasoning made of crushed toasted nuts, seeds, and/or spices.

Feel free to switch up your mix with other small, crunchy, flavor-packed ingredients you have on hand: fennel or poppy seeds, dried onion, cayenne or paprika, dried mint or za’atar, flaky salt, or even something sweet, like freeze-dried berries, dried rose, or turbinado sugar. Nuts would also work; just grind them more finely so they stick to your cucumber spears.

Blistered Cucumbers with Spicy Seeds


  • 4

    Persian or mini seedless cucumbers

  • 1 teaspoon

    white sesame seeds

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon

    cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon

    coriander seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil


  1. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and set aside.

  2. Toast the sesame seeds in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until lightly golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the cumin and coriander to the skillet and toast until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind until the seeds are just cracked. Transfer to the bowl of sesame seeds and add the red pepper flakes.

  3. Wipe out the skillet and pat the cucumbers dry. Heat the oil in the skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the cucumbers cut side down, and cook until browned, about 4 minutes.

  4. Transfer to a cutting board, cut each piece in half lengthwise, then serve with the spicy seeds for dunking or sprinkling over.

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