Strawberry Cucumber Chocolate Mint Salad (whew!)

The short version:

Three weeks into the demonstration series, in the middle of June, strawberries are available everywhere. We made a strawberry salad with sliced strawberries, chopped cucumbers, and a beautiful bunch of chocolate mint with a lime ginger dressing. The dressing was sweetened with"rooftop honey," local honey harvested in New York City by the owners of Berkshire Berries.

The long version:
By mid-June, the Greenmarket is a sea of strawberries. Everyone, everyone, has lush-looking pints of berries. When I arrived at the market on Monday, strawberry samples were being passed at every corner, and the producers' tables were blanketed with red.

The strawberries were not the stars of the strawberry salad, though. Nor were the crisp, mild, burpless cucumbers. The spotlight was really shared by two components of the salad dressing, the honey and the mint.

When I put together this week's recipe, I used a standard chopped spearmint from my corner store. It was good. Really good. But when I was perusing the market on Monday, the producers of live herbs and flowers had not just spearmint and peppermint, but six kinds of mint for me to select from. They were very generous. They asked me to taste each one.

So one of the great pleasures of the strawberry demo was standing by the herb table tearing off leaf after leaf of varied mints. Apple mint was bright tasting as its pale green leaves suggested. Lemon mint had no sour notes but just the lemony scent like lemon oil (or, unfortunately, Pledge). But the standout was the deep green leaf of the chocolate mint plant. It had an earthy, dark mint flavor that was indeed reminiscent of chocolate. It is a flavor just made to go with strawberries.

The other star, the honey, was a true surprise. I didn't know the story behind the cute little jars of honey at the Berkshire Berries stand. I knew vaguely that the producers were from Massachusetts and assumed that their honey is from there, too. But it's not. Berkshire Berries Rooftop Honey could not possibly be more local to its Union Square market. It is harvested off of rooftops of apartment buildings and churches and schools right here in the city. Even better than that, the honey itself is remarkable-- sweet, a little thinner than standard clover honey, and so light in color you could almost mistake it for corn syrup. This is very delicious honey. And the Graves, the makers (or collecters as the case may be) of the honey couldn't have been nicer. They gave me three tiny little jars of honey to use for the demo, and a press release with David Graves with an arm thrown around Bill Clinton. What could be better?

More information on the Graves and their honey cultivation can be found here.

Strawberry and Cucumber Salad

Summer flavors come together in this unusual mix of summer produce. July is the perfect time for this salad, when strawberry season overlaps with the beginning of cucumber season.

Younger cucumbers tend to be sweeter and milder, making them a nice crisp counter note to the strawberry.

A small amount of salt in this recipe helps to macerate the strawberries so their flavor mixes with the cucumber more thoroughly.

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

one cucumber, cut in a fine dice
fresh mint, chopped
2 t fresh grated ginger
3 T lime juice
2 T honey
pinch of salt

  1. Combine ginger, lime juice, honey and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add strawberries and cucumber, and toss gently. Taste for sweetness. The ripeness of the strawberries and the age of the limes used will affect the ratio of sweet to tart.
  3. Adjust with honey or lime juice if necessary.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least a half hour to allow the flavors to blend. Makes four servings.
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