Viviane Bauquet Farre
When summer is in full force, cucumbers follow suit in the most overwhelming fashion. Julienned into linguine-size strips and tossed with fresh mint and a zingy vinaigrette, cucumbers here make for a very refreshing — not to mention stylish — appetizer. The fried capers that adorn this simple dish add an irresistible salty bite, a perfect contrast to the slightly sweet cukes.
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Spoon the capers into a medium-sized sieve and drain. Place the cornmeal in a small bowl. Add the capers and stir with a fork until the capers are well coated with the cornmeal. Pour the capers back into the sieve and shake until the excess cornmeal has been sifted.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and the capers. Shake the pan until the capers spread in the pan in 1 layer. Reduce the heat to medium, and sauté undisturbed until the capers are golden brown on the edges, about 2-3 minutes.
Toss carefully with a fork. Shake the pan again until the capers spread in the pan in 1 layer, and continue to sauté until the capers are golden brown, about 1-2 more minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool to room temperature. Use the capers within 4 hours.
Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended and set aside.
Cut the cucumbers crosswise into 6-inch sections. Using a mandoline, julienne the flesh of the cucumber but not the seedy centers. (You should end up with 4 cups of julienned pieces.) Place the cucumber strips in a bowl. Season with the salt, mix well with your hands, and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain the cucumber in a medium-sized sieve and press down with a wooden spoon to remove all excess juices.
Place the cucumber in a medium-sized bowl. Add the mint and the vinaigrette. Toss until well mixed. Spoon into 4 appetizer bowls. Garnish each bowl with 3 cherry tomato halves and a spoonful of fried capers. Season with white pepper, to taste, and serve immediately.