Last night I set out to make this salad, and once the cucumbers were sweated, realized we were out of champagne vinegar. So I substituted a premium white wine vinegar with completely unsatisfactory results. Champagne vinegar is indeed one of five secrets to this salad. The second secret is to properly sweat and drain the cucumbers. Third is a very small portion of olive oil. The fourth secret is a fiery hit of cayenne. And finally, the salad needs to sit at room temperature for a half hour prior to consumption.
If originally inspired by recipes that came before, I've lost track of what they were. The evolution of this cucumber and tomato salad took on a life of its own under my stewardship quite some years ago. It's unique, easily put together, and in my opinion, delicious. Here are the specifics:
CUCUMBER AND TOMATO SALAD
2 whole cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tomato, sliced
Mix the cucumbers with 1 teaspoon of the salt for 30 minutes and drain completely. Place the cucumbers in a bowl with tomatoes. Mix the rest of the ingredients. Pour over and toss. Let stand for 30 minutes and serve.