The weather's getting warmer. The days are growing longer. I think it's safe to say that we're out of the winter months. Your gears for meals are shifting from warming foods to refreshing foods, which brings me to cucumbers. This is a very easy cucumber salad recipe that's perfect for your outdoor barbecues, picnics, or even meal plans at home.
If you spin it right, salads are perfect for the warm weather. It can be cooling and hydrating, getting you beach body ready. Let's not forget - it's always a healthy option. I love salads because they're so versatile. They're excellent side dishes, appetisers, or entrees if you bulk it up.
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How do you make a typical salad refreshing?
With ingredients like cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, arugula (rockets), and homemade vinaigrette dressing just to name a few. You want some acidic ingredients to give you that refreshing taste.
Health Benefits of Cucumbers
Why eat cucumbers in the warmer seasons? With the warmer weather, you're going to sweat more often - unless you're one of those magical people that glisten or glow instead. Cucumbers are full of water and electrolytes to keep you hydrated. They also provide you with necessary vitamins such as B, C, and K along with antioxidants to fight against free radicals that are constantly around you. Carrying only about 16 calories per cup, it also helps you keep better control of your weight when you incorporate it into your diet.
You can add different elements to this cucumber salad. Options for added protein are roasted chickpeas, feta cheese, or fish (like tuna or salmon). Feel free to add these elements to bulk up your salad a bit more. I'll be showing you the minimals to make this salad so that you can dress it up and put your own twist on it. I made this salad as a side to my baked salmon filet. Salmon can be a heavy dish due to the fat. But that's what makes this cucumber salad a perfect balance with it's light, acidic taste.
Here's what you're going to need for the salad:
1 large cucumber (about 12 inches or 30 cm in length) 1/4 small red or yellow onion 3 cups of arugula (rockets, fluffy) 1 large heirloom tomato
What You Need For the Dressing:
1 piece of ginger (1 inch in length) 1/2 tablespoon chilli flakes 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 lemon, juiced
Preparing the Dressing
Start with the dressing. Make this first because you want time for the chilli flake flavours to infuse into the vinaigrette. Also, an optional step that I love to do is to slightly pickle the onion during the time I'm preparing the rest of the salad. I used a yellow onion in this salad. But if you want a sweeter version, use a red onion. Red onions are usually a great default for salads. Halve the onion. Then, chop it lengthwise at least 1/8 inch in thickness or thinner. You want it to be thin so that you're not biting into a big chunk of onion when you're eating the salad. The thinner the slices the faster it will also absorb the vinaigrette dressing.
Add all of the dry ingredients into a bowl first - the chilli flakes, finely minced ginger, sugar, and salt. Then, add the wet ingredients - vinegar and lemon juice. Wait to add the sesame oil until closer to the end since oils don't mix well in water-based solutions. Mix the dry and wet ingredients until the sugar is fully dissolved into the vinegar. Add in the sliced onions. Then, refrigerate the mixture to keep it cool.
You sliced the onion as thin as possible and it's now pickling in the vinaigrette dressing. So, let's move on to chopping the cucumbers. You want to quarter the cucumbers lengthwise and then cut those long pieces into triangles that are about one-quarter inch (0.6 cm) thick and place them in a large bowl. Now, let's chop the tomatoes into similar cubic shapes as the cucumber. Then, place it in the large bowl with the cucumbers.
Next, we'll add the arugula to the chopped cucumber and tomatoes. Now, take the vinaigrette mixture out of the refrigerator, add the sesame oil, and give it a good stir. Finally, add the vinaigrette dressing to the chopped vegetables and toss it well. Add extra salt to taste. The amount of dressing that we made is enough to just coat the vegetables. If you like to really soak your salad with dressing, I recommend doubling the ingredients of the dressing to get that desired volume.
This cucumber salad pairs perfectly with pretty much any food from a pasta or pastry-filled brunch to a quick lunch to a dinner side to an outdoor barbecue dish. It really keeps your meal light and balanced. Try it out and add your own spin to it. I was able to make this salad during the 20 minutes it took to bake my salmon in the oven, bringing my meal preparation time down to 30 minutes. Can't wait to hear how your family and friends love this highlight of the brunch or dinner party.