No matter how you make it, cucumber salad adds refreshing flavor and juicy texture to any meal. A simple salad of diced cucumbers, tomatoes and onion slices, dressed with a vinaigrette, brings brightness to a barbecued meal from the grill, to pan-fried steak or fish or to ethnic cuisine such as falafel or spinach pie. Thinly sliced cucumbers in a salad dressed with yogurt and mayonnaise works with the same easy-going menu or with a more sophisticated menu of poached chicken or fish.
Diced Cucumber Salad
- 2 cups of 1/2-inch diced cucumbers
- 2 cups 1/2-inch diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup red wine vinaigrette, homemade or store-bought
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- 1/4 cup olives (optional)
Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and parsley and, if you are using them, the feta cheese and olives.
Toss all the ingredients thoroughly with the vinaigrette.
For homemade vinaigrette, combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Sliced Cucumber Salad
- 2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
- 1/2 cup plain, Greek-style yogurt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
Slice the cucumber as thinly as you can using a chef's knife or a mandoline. Set the slices on paper towels to absorb some of their moisture while you make the salad dressing.
Whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper until the dressing is smooth and creamy. This will take 1 to 2 minutes.
Taste the dressing and add more mayonnaise to increase its creaminess, more yogurt or lemon juice to increase tanginess or salt to bring out the dressing's flavor. When adjusting the taste, add ingredients a little at a time and taste frequently so you don't add too much. It's easy to add more, but hard to fix if you add too much.
Pour the dressing over the cucumber slices in a bowl and mix them together thoroughly, making sure the cucumbers are evenly coated and not stuck together.
Add the dill and toss the salad again.
Experiment with different ingredients to create your own cucumber salad:
- Cut the cucumber into julienne -- matchstick -- strips, add grated carrots and dress the vegetables with an Asian-inspired dressing made with minced ginger, sesame oil, rice vinegar and sugar.
- Combine sliced cucumbers with cubed watermelon and feta cheese and stir in a vinaigrette made with lime juice instead of vinegar, as the editors did at the Cooking Light website.
- Serve a spicy cucumber salad with chile peppers, mint and yogurt as a side dish for Mexican food.
- Pair cucumbers with ingredients as different as blue cheese, pineapple or shrimp. Pick just one of these and add some lettuce and a vinegar dressing.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.