Sichuan-style smashed cucumbers are the simplest example of one of these dishes, and coincidentally my favorite one. At some point in the last couple years, the technique of smashing cucumbers for salads has become so popular that the New York Times even wrote a trend piece about the subject. Does saying that they’ve been a thing long before the NYT discovered them make me a hipster? I suppose so. But it’s true. Smashed cucumbers have always been delicious.
Ask me what I’d do with nearly any summer vegetable, and the answer is almost always the same: “Pickle it.” Yellow squash, pickle it. Green beans, pickle them. Cherries, pickle those too. It’s hard to beat the sharp tang and crisp snap of a good quick pickle, a fast and easy process that leaves them tasting of summer.