The shining bright spot in my 2020 (it hasn’t had a lot of competition, tbh) is that this is the year I jumped on the CSA train. I’m not sure why it took me so long: Being on the receiving end of a surprise assortment of vegetables—CSA stands for “community-supported agriculture,” which means we bought a share of whatever the farm is growing—is kind of my dream scenario, and I love getting a glimmer of upstate life without leaving the city. On Saturday mornings, I walk a few short blocks to the pick-up location and head home with a bounty of seasonal goods that inspire the next few days of cooking. If it sounds dreamy, that’s because it is! It’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time.
The only real issue is the cucumbers.
Every week, while unpacking and cataloguing our latest vegetable haul, my partner pronounces that we are, once again, buried in cucumbers. It’s a serious situation, and you’ll feel me if you have an over-abundant garden this time of year: Because we are regularly given anywhere from nine to thirteen cucumbers, we have to make some real moves to ensure that by the time next Saturday rolls around (and with it a whole new crop of cucumbers), we’ve made a dent in our supply.
Crawling out of the cucumber hole has meant lots of quick pickles and cold soups, smashed cucumber salads and spicy tiger salads. We’ve shingled cukes on toast, shaved them into ribbons, and used them as a vehicle for dips of all kinds. If I type the letter C into Google, it automatically fills in “-ucumber recipes,” my new most common search phrase. So it was in self-preservation that, when tasked with developing a recipe to use up the last bit of summer produce, I went for a dish that would lighten my load—at least until next Saturday.
If I type the letter C into Google, it automatically fills in “-ucumber recipes,” my new most common search phrase.
This recipe is a meatball salad, which, if you’re not already adding meatballs to salads, will likely inspire you to try it. Amidst the cucumbers, thinly sliced red onion, and herbs, the juicy meatballs play the role that croutons might, standing out as the clear best part but not overshadowing the other flavors. To keep the total ingredient list under control, we tap some of the same items twice, making the most of briney, buttery Castelvetrano olives and sweet golden raisins by putting them in both the meatballs and the salad. Toasted pine nuts add crunch and a yogurt swoosh adds richness and tang; spreading a layer across the whole plate guarantees you’ll get a bit in every bite.