This is another flavor-packed adaptation of a classic. It was a wonderful way to enjoy the bounty of delicious summer cucumbers. Although this version is lighter than a classic Caesar, I was initially concerned that the dressing may be too potent. No worries! It was perfect.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I modified the method and proportions, used cucumbers from my CSA share, and used harissa instead of Calabrian chile paste. I loved the generous volume of fresh dill.
We enjoyed it with grilled chicken thighs and and roasted potatoes. Great.
For the Crispy-Spicy Panko Topping:
- 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Harissa or Calabrian chile paste (or 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
- 1 cup panko
- 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal)
For the Salad & Assembly:
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
- 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 T anchovy paste or 5 drained oil-packed anchovy fillets, smashed
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt, plus more (or 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal)
- 5 peeled, halved, and seeded cucumbers or 3 European hothouse cucumbers, cut on a diagonal into 1″ pieces
- 2 oz Parmesan, shaved (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- 1 cup dill, chopped
To Make the Crispy-Spicy Panko Topping:
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
- Add the chile paste and stir into the warm oil.
- Add panko and salt (and crushed red pepper flakes, if using instead of chile paste) and cook, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer spicy breadcrumbs to a shallow bowl; set aside.
Do ahead: Breadcrumbs can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
To Make the Salad & To Assemble:
- Whisk garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, anchovies, mustard, and salt in a large bowl to combine.
- If using regular cucumbers: peel, slice in half, and seed them. (I used a melon baller to seed them.)
- Add the cucumber slices; toss well to coat.
- Add shaved Parmesan and top with dill. Gently toss to distribute evenly.
- Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
- Just before serving, transfer cucumber salad to a platter and spoon reserved spicy breadcrumbs on top. (I reserved some of the breadcrumbs to pass at the table.)
Do ahead: Dressing can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Salad (without breadcrumbs) can be made 3 hours ahead; cover and chill.