Café 5: Rick Bayless Shares His Charred Cucumber Salad Recipe

In this segment of "Dishing With Chicago Chefs," chef Rick Bayless previews Chicago Gourmet's new series of events by sharing a unique salad recipe. 

The iconic chef behind Frontera Restaurants is set to curate a "Farm2Table Dinner" along The 606 Trail as part of the "eXtraordinary chefs - eXtraordinary places" series. 

Tickets for the events went on sale Thursday and are available here

Chicago Gourmet will celebrate its 10th year when the annual food and wine festival returns to Millennium Park Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 24.

Charred Cucumber Salad with Red Chile and Lime

Makes 4 cups, serving 6 as a side dish


1 ½ pounds medium Persian cucumbers, or medium kirbys, or medium lemon cucumbers)

3 or 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½ teaspoon chile flakes (you can buy them or make your own by toasting stemmed arbol chiles lightly in a dry skillet, then pulsing them in an electric spice mill until reduced to flakes)

A generous ½ teaspoon Worcestershire

¼ cup thin-sliced onion (my first choice is the sliced “bulbs” of knob onions, but small red onions—especially if you can find tropeas in your farmers market—are delicious, too)

½ cup loosely packed chopped cilantro (or substitute smaller amounts of mint, hoja santa, fresh Mexican oregano, thyme, marjoram, even Thai basil)


First, char the cucumbers: You can lay them on an open gas flame turned to high, or a very hot gas or charcoal fire, and cook, turning almost constantly, until the skin is blackened a little on all sides (about 4 minutes). Or you can char the cucumbers with one of those torches used in kitchens to toast meringue or crème brulee. Either way, the idea is to have the heat high enough that the cucumbers’ skins blacken some before the flesh cooks very much on the inside. And the blackening should be done with a light hand—you’re not trying to create charcoal here.

Once charred, let the cucumbers cool a bit, then split each one in half lengthwise and slice crosswise into ¼-inch-thick half-moons. Scoop into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt, usually a scant ½ teaspoon. Let stand for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle and the salad is ready to serve.

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