April 18, 2016

Cucumber & Strawberries With Calabrian Chile & Cured Black Olive Relish, Pine Nuts, & Chèvre

Recipe: Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton, with Stacy Adimando

Unlike many salads that hinge largely on the season and what’s fresh and available, this is a dish you can extend through the year with a few small tweaks. The dressing — which isn’t so much a classic vinaigrette as a rustic chopped chile condiment — packs a ton of flavor, but the dish is still cool and refreshing enough to give relief from richness in other parts of the meal. In the spring, we make it with chilled snap peas instead of cucumbers, and through the winter, it works perfectly with jicama batons and sprigs of watercress. Take out the chèvre if you want to make the dish vegan.

Calabrian chiles are hot peppers from the south of Italy known for their unique fruity and briny flavors and the incredible heat they pack for their size. While you may see them in dried, flake form, for this recipe you want to use the jarred chiles packed in oil, which you can find in Italian or specialty markets.


Calabrian Chile and Cured Black Olive Relish

  • 1⁄2 cup pitted, chopped cured black olives
  • 1⁄4 cup seeded, chopped
  • Calabrian chiles in oil
  • 1⁄4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cucumber and Strawberries

  • 1⁄4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 salad or English cucumbers
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced crosswise into rounds
  • 4 ounces chèvre cheese, crumbled (1⁄2 cup)
  • 12 mint leaves, very thinly sliced
  • Flaked sea salt



Yield: Serves 6 as a starter

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. To make the relish, mix together the olives, chiles, vinegar, oil, and salt, whisking until the salt is dissolved. Set aside.
  3. On a flat dish or pan, spread out the pine nuts and roast until they are several shades darker but not yet browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and transfer to another dish; let cool completely.
  4. Peel the cucumbers and slice into 2 1 ⁄2-inch logs. Quarter the logs, then remove the seeds. Halve each spear lengthwise. Divide the cucumber spears among six plates or serve on one platter, stacking them slightly. Scatter the sliced strawberries over the top, then drizzle with the relish, evenly distributing the olives and chiles. Garnish with the chèvre, pine nuts, and mint. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Photographs copyright © 2016 by Evan Sung. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. All rights reserved.


Excerpted from Around the Fire by Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton, with Stacy Adimando. Copyright © 2016 by Ox, LLC.