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 (affectionally 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 by answering four commonly asked questions about the side dish. Keep reading for tips on how to make cucumber salad along with a delicious recipe worth trying.
What is a cucumber salad made of?
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.
What are the most flavorful cucumbers to use for salads?
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 three 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.
Should I leave the skin on a cucumber for a salad?
To peel or not to peel: that’s up to you. Persian and English cucumbers have a thinner, easier to chew skin than the pickling types. Therefore, you may want to peel pickling cucumbers beforehand for a less chewy salad. On the other hand, if you leave the skin on a cucumber — especially since it contains vitamin A and fiber — be sure to thoroughly wash the surface to remove illness-causing dirt and bacteria.
How do you keep cucumber salad from getting soggy?
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 in an article on Carnegie Mellon University’s website. “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:
- Slice one medium cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
- Stack halves flat side down; slice diagonally ¼-inch thick. Toss with one 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.)
- Allow the cukes to drain for at least one hour, and up to three 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.
- Note: Double or triple measurements if you’re working with two or three cucumbers.
How do you store cucumber salad to make it last longer?
Cucumber salad lasts three to five days in the fridge when stored in a plastic, airtight container. Otherwise, exposure to air could cause the cucumbers to spoil quickly and/or go limp. Enjoy your cucumber salad for days to come by eating it on its own, or serving it alongside grilled meats like tender chicken and juicy steak. Yum!
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:
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons 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 salted (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Prep: 10 mins
- Total time: 10 mins
- Yield: 6 servings
- In large bowl, whisk rice wine vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss salad greens, radish slices, tomatoes, and onions with dressing. Transfer to platter. Arrange cucumber slices around edge.
For more summer salad recipes click through the link below!