Cucumber and Radish Salad with Fresh Cheese

Cucumber and Radish Salad with Fresh Cheese
Cucumber and Radish Salad with Fresh Cheese
Cucumber and Radish Salad with Fresh CheeseSusan Bell

This simple garden salad sits on a milky bed of crumbled biezpiens, a soft, fresh cow's-milk cheese omnipresent throughout Latvia. This recipe details how to make your own, but in its place you can substitute a well-drained ricotta or crumbled queso fresco.

What You Will Need

Cucumber and Radish Salad with Fresh Cheese
This simple garden salad sits on a milky bed of crumbled biezpiens, a soft, fresh cow’s-milk cheese omnipresent throughout Latvia. This recipe details how to make your own, but in its place you can substitute a well-drained ricotta or crumbled queso fresco.
Yield: serves 4
Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 12 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 kirby cucumber (8 oz.)
  • 7 large round radishes (7 oz.)
  • 1 tbsp. plus 11/2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 cup thinly sliced scallion (2 small scallions)
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp. heavy cream, for drizzling

Instructions

  1. At least 4 hours or up to 12 hours before you plan to serve the salad, make the biezpiens: In a heavy, medium stockpot, combine the milk and 1½ teaspoons kosher salt. Heat slowly until the milk approaches a simmer, barely trembling at the surface, 185°F. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice, and stir gently, just until curds form, about 2 minutes. Set aside at room temperature until the curds have settled at the top, about 20 minutes.
  2. Line a fine mesh strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth and set it over the sink. Drain the curds, discarding the whey. When most of the whey has drained off, set the sieve over a bowl and refrigerate to firm up and continue draining, at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Prepare the salad just before serving: Thinly slice the cucumbers and radishes and place in a large bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, the vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and black pepper, then add the scallion and dill. On a large serving platter, crumble the biezpiens in a loose layer, then drizzle the cheese with the heavy cream and olive oil to moisten. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Pile the cucumber mixture in a loose nest atop the cheese and serve immediately.