Heat Wave + RECIPE: Crunchy Cucumber & Kohlrabi Salad with Chili Oil

How did you all survive that heat wave last week? We made it through relatively unscathed (though we have never been more grateful for these days in the high seventies and nights in the low sixties that we’re experiencing right now).

In fact, the heat wave did many of our crops well. We had to harvest zucchini and cucumbers on both Friday and Saturday (we usually harvest every-other-day) bringing in a startling 250 pounds of each between those two harvests. Many of our summer crops love those sticky 90+ degree days (especially when paired with the two inches of rain we got on Thursday). The peppers are popping like mad. The first crop of onions are full and ready for harvest. The watermelon are sizing up so quickly. And the garlic is demanding we get it out of the ground. Everything is lush and full and green as can be.

In a lot of ways, we’re incredibly grateful for that heat wave. It gave most crops the boost they needed after starting the season late, cool and a little too wet. Things are looking just how they should for late July and we even harvested the full handful of cherry tomatoes yesterday for one of our restaurants! It won’t be long until we exchange heavy harvests of zucchini, cucumbers and summer squash for crate after crate of colorful tomato. This transition from July to August is one of my absolute favorites. The flavors of July are hearty and delicious, but there is nothing better than the first Sungolds of the season or sweet watermelon still warm from the field.

So all in all, I’d say the farm (and even us farmers) thrived through the heat. Honestly, the worst part was probably the fact that I made a huge vat of one of my absolute favorite summer dishes– Garlickly Runner Beans with Fennel— alongside this amazing Cucumber & Kohlrabi salad right before things heated up outside. Both dishes are a little heavy on the red pepper flakes and with no AC, I literally could not bear to eat food that made me sweat when I returned home at night.

Luckily, now that we have been greeted by near perfect weather and beautiful cool evenings I can enjoy them again. I hope you do too.

-Leek

Raleighs-Hillside-CSA-Farm-wr-by-Crystal-K-Creative-58

CUCUMBER & KOHLRABI SALAD WITH SESAME CHILI OIL
Adapted from Dining In cookbook

This is the same chili oil that I used for my Noodle Lettuce Wraps with Pork Meatballs except that I added sesame seeds at the end because this really needs a little extra crunch. You won’t need all the chili oil for either dish so feel free to make a full batch, divide it in half and only add sesame seeds to one half. Save the other half for another use or those Noodle Lettuce Wraps!

Serves 2-4 as a side (or 1 as a meal as I have been doing)
Takes 30 minutes

2 cucumbers, ends trimmed
1 kohlrabi, peeled
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
3 scallions, trimmed and cut on the diagonal

Crunchy Garlic Chile Oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 garlic scapes or 4 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons white or black sesame seeds

  1. Begin by preparing the garlic chile oil by pouring oil into a small saucepan and heating over medium heat until glistening (but not smoking). Add garlic scapes (or garlic) and stir. Things will sizzle for a little bit. Let them do that for a minute or so and then add the red pepper flakes and salt into the pot. Reduce heat to medium low and let sizzle for 5-10 minutes until the garlic has gotten a little browned and crispy. Once crispy, remove from heat and add sesame seeds.
  2. Using a mandoline (or vegetable peeler), slice your cucumber lengthwise into ribbons. Cut your kohlrabi into quarters and slice thinly however you like. Toss cucumbers and kohlrabi together in a large bowl with vinegar and salt. Let it marinate in these flavors until the chile oil is finished.
  3. Serve cucumbers and kohlrabi in shallow bowls. Drizzle with sesame chile oil and scallions.

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