Smashed Cucumber Salad

There is nothing like fresh summer cucumber for a snack or salad. In parts of China, whole cucumbers are sold on the street as a snack. They are so good for you because they cool down internal heat, purify the blood, and benefit the heart, lungs, and skin. Preparing them in this traditional Chinese manner, with rough, craggy edges, makes them taste juicier and almost like a different vegetable, even though—botanically speaking—cucumbers are a fruit. Unless the skins are waxed, you don’t need to peel them—just scrub them well before eating.

Serves 2

4 medium organic cucumbers

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Depending on the size of the cucumbers, cut them lengthwise into halves or quarters, then cut each piece crosswise into 2-inch segments. Place the cucumber pieces on a cutting board. Lay the blade of a big knife flat over a piece of cucumber with one hand on top. Smash down gently but firmly, just enough to crack the skin and separate the seeds. Repeat with the remaining pieces.

Transfer the smashed cucumbers to a colander set over a bowl and toss with the salt. Let stand for 20 minutes, then shake well and transfer to an empty bowl. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the cucumber, then taste and see if it needs more salt or lemon juice before serving.