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Vegetables

Cucumber Salad Is the Perfect No-Cook Side — Easy Recipe for Crunchy and Flavorful Results

Cucumbers often play second fiddle to leafy greens and tomatoes in salads, but there’s no reason why they should. This in-season vegetable is crunchy, sweet, and a hearty base for salads. Also, if you buy one large cucumber, it could produce enough salad for two or three servings. In a nutshell, cucumbers (affectionately nicknamed “cukes”) deserve to be the star of your summer salads.

That said, there’s a lot to consider when preparing a cucumber salad: from the type of cucumber you’ll use to the seasonings you’ll add. Luckily, we’ve made it simple to prepare the best cucumber salad. Keep reading for tips on how to make cucumber salad along with a delicious recipe worth trying.

The basics of cucumber salad

Most cucumber salads contain the namesake veggie, onions, and a creamy dressing or an oil-based vinaigrette. While these core ingredients produce a tasty cucumber salad, other flavors take this simple side to the next level. Herbs like fresh dill and parsley infuse the salad with a clean, citrusy flavor, while spices such as crushed coriander and cumin add a warm and earthy kick. You can also add small amounts of tomatoes, feta cheese, and/or leafy greens for a more filling and robust salad. Ultimately, a yummy cucumber salad is one that boasts your favorite flavors and textures in one dish.

Best types of cucumbers to use for salad

Cucumbers aren’t one-size-fits-all. They come in dozens of varieties, which makes it confusing to decide the right one for a cucumber salad. Fortunately, the experts at MasterClass take the guesswork out of it by narrowing down your options to these 3 salad-friendly cukes.

Persian cucumbers

These small cucumbers have thin skin, and usually contain very little to no seeds. Persian cucumbers also boast a mild and sweet flavor, making them ideal to toss in an acidic vinaigrette.

English cucumbers

This long and thick slicing cucumber is sold all year round. Additionally, these cucumbers have smaller seeds and a smooth skin.

National pickling cucumbers

These cucumbers can be identified by their dark green exterior and bumpy skin. National pickling cucumbers are short and thick as well.

Easy trick for preventing a soggy salad

If you’re making cucumber salad in advance, consider salting the veggie beforehand as it maintains its crispness. This technique involves letting sliced and deseeded cucumbers sit in salt to extract liquid with the veggie. “The salt draws out the liquid from the vegetable because of the natural tendency of salt water solutions to equalize when mixed together,” chef Adam Ried explains. “Because there is more salt on the outside of the cucumber, water flows out of the permeable cells of the cucumber as it seeks to equalize the concentration of salt inside and outside the cucumber.”

Once salted, the cucumber slices need to drain for at least an hour. This step prevents the cukes from sitting in their own liquid and becoming mushy. Afterwards, the veggie slices are ready to make salad with. Below, you can find Ried’s steps for how to properly salt and drain cucumber slices.

  1. Slice one medium cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  2. Stack halves flat side down; slice diagonally ¼-inch thick. Toss with 1 teaspoon salt in a strainer or colander set over a bowl. Place a sealed gallon-sized freezer bag filled with water on top of the cukes. (This trick helps press out the water within the cucumbers.)
  3. Allow the cukes to drain for at least an hour, and up to 3 hours. Discard the liquid that’s inside of the bowl, and transfer the cucumber slices to a separate medium bowl. Use those crispy cukes to prepare your salad.
  4. Note: Double or triple measurements if you’re working with 2 or 3 cucumbers.

How to make a delicious cucumber salad

To make a tasty and refreshing side, try our recipe for Toasted Sesame Cucumber Salad. This salad is packed with cukes, salad greens, radish and red onion tossed in a nutty and fragrant sesame vinaigrette. All you need is about 10 minutes to whip up this mouthwatering cucumber salad at home. (Looking for a similar recipe? Try this Greek Salad.)

Cucumber Salad

HBB

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cups salad greens, thoroughly washed
  • ½ cup sliced radish
  • ½ cup halved grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup sliced red onions
  • 1 medium to large cucumber, thinly sliced (and optionally salted)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Total time: 10 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. In large bowl, whisk rice wine vinegar, sugar and sesame oil together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Toss salad greens, radish slices, tomatoes, and onions with dressing. Transfer to platter. Arrange cucumber slices around edge.
  3. Note: If you’re salting the cucumbers beforehand, you shouldn’t need to add more salt to the vinaigrette.

Best way to store cucumber salad

Cucumber salad lasts 3 to 5 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. Otherwise, exposure to air could cause the cucumbers to spoil quickly and/or go limp.


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