Question: “Is there anything more refreshing and cool than a salad in the hot summer days? Before you answer, a remark: Beers and cocktails are excluded (lol). Another remark: Not any kind of salad. A cucumber salad with yogurt-pesto dressing”. Right! There isn’t. That’s why, there is so much to love about this Mediterranean cucumber salad. Crisp cucumber, more veggies (hellooo, Mediterranean food!) refreshing herbs, and creamy texture combined with delicious yogurt-pesto!
WHY MAKE THIS CUCUMBER SALAD?
Easy recipes like these are perfect for nearly every occasion, especially in the hot summer days. No oven heat, just a little bit of chopping and mixing fresh ingredients. Perfect for BBQs, backyard cookout gatherings, potlucks, picnics, you name it!
If you follow this food blog, you already know that the Mediterranean way of eating is mostly vegetarian so this is another delicious vegetarian recipe to add to your weekly rotation. If you are a first-time visitor, welcome! Join the party and find recipes energizing, full of nutrients and so delicious!
INGREDIENTS FOR MEDITERRANEAN CUCUMBER SALAD
As the basic ingredient in this salad, you need to pick up fresh cucumbers with a crisp finish.
You may make this salad with all kinds of cucumbers but I recommend English or smaller Persian cucumbers. They are perfect for salads because their seeds are small with thin skins that you don’t need to be peeled.
In case the cucumber’s skin is thick you need to peel it and if the seeds are big, you have to remove them as well. Thick skin may add either bitterness or unpleased texture or both. Big seeds tend to retain too much water that can end up in your salad.
Yogurt- pesto dressing
I find the pesto an excellent addition. It gives a uniquely refreshing twist that pairs exquisitely with the yogurt’s creaminess.
First things first: here is a unique recipe for pesto. It’s a Genovese traditional recipe with the addition of an ingredient that gives more body and texture to the recipe. Make a generous quantity, mix 2 tablespoons with the yogurt for your Mediterranean cucumber salad, and save the rest in the fridge for future use, if any. Clever, isn’t it?
In case you don’t have the time or you aren’t in the mood to make pesto (it is ridiculously easy but still….), you may add fresh or dried basil. You won’t get the same delicious outcome but it will be close enough!
I recommend using full-fat yogurt if you want to keep leftovers. Low-fat yogurt tends to make the salad watery in a couple of hours.
HOW TO MAKE MEDITERRANEAN CUCUMBER SALAD
Dice or slice the onion. In a small bowl, soak sliced/diced cucumber in iced water for about 20 minutes.
I make this extra step when I serve raw onion (in salads or on sandwiches) to take some of the acrid edges off. It is so much easier to digest. This method enhances somehow the onion’s flavor, plus it gives crispiness which is always appreciated.
Preferably drain and pat dry.
In case you want to keep leftovers, I would recommend removing some of the cucumber’s moisture. Cucumbers contain an insane amount of water. They are made up of around 96% water.
Therefore, if you intend to keep it in a food container in the fridge to be consumed the following day, better be safe than sorry: slice the cucumbers, place them in a strainer, and add a generous pinch of salt. Toss well and drain for about 15 minutes.
Finally, rinse them off and pat them dry before adding them to your salad.
Meanwhile, prep the rest of the veggies.
Shave or finely slice radishes and blanch the peas for a few minutes.
Transfer the cucumbers and the rest of the ingredients to a salad bowl and toss well.
Make the yogurt dressing. Mix the ingredients for the yogurt-pesto dressing in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Gently fold the yogurt-pesto dressing into the veggies.
After the salad rests for 15-20 minutes in the fridge, it is ready to serve.
There can be several variations of this Mediterranean cucumber salad. Keep the yogurt-pesto dressing and add different ingredients like:
Green onions or chives
Walnuts or almonds
MY CUCUMBER SALAD IS READY! NOW, WHAT?
This side salad is excellent for BBQs because it pairs well with grilled or roasted meat. You may enjoy it anytime, anywhere either as a main meal or at work (convenient lunch-box meal) or at a picnic, potluck, etc.
If you love wine, a zesty dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity rosé are the best pairings for this salad.
HOW TO PREP FOR THIS SALAD
In case you want to prepare in advance, leave the dressing off, and dress the salad before serving.
Keep the veggies in an airtight food container in the fridge.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVERS
This salad is best when consumed on the same day. It can get soggy if left overnight especially if it is dressed.
However, it can be served the following day if you follow step#1: sprinkle a pinch of salt over the cucumbers and let them drain for 10-15 minutes. This method can help draw out excess water and it gives you a better outcome when you have leftovers.
Store the salad in an airtight food container (preferably glass) in the fridge, and drain any excess liquid that accumulates before serving.
MORE REFRESHING SALAD RECIPES!
There is a ton of salads in the Mediterranean way of eating but I will give you my list of the best summer salads:
First of all, the one and only Greek salad. There are so many reasons that this salad is a legend.
Then, this black-eyed pea salad is so special. It is so easy to make and it’s really impressive to serve.
This eggplant salad is my favorite. It may not look like a classic salad because there are no greens etc but only eggplant. That’s why it is so unique and I strongly recommend trying it!
Finally, another proposal is this caprese-melon-prosciutto salad. An Italian-inspired salad combo from 2 famous Italian antipasti-salad dishes.
If you have already made this Mediterranean Cucumber Salad, I would be super grateful to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #30daysofgreekfood and Facebook with @30daysofgreekfood! Above all, I absolutely love your feedback. This is a huge motivation for me and it keeps 30daysofgreekfood’s kitchen alive. Thank you so much!!!
Mediterranean Cucumber Salad - Yogurt & Pesto Dressing
FOR THE SALAD
- 4-5 (about 500g) cucumbers, preferably English or Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced*1
- 1 cup (160g) fresh peas, blanched and cooled
- 1 small red onion, thinly chopped or sliced
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 4-5 radishes, shaved or finely sliced
FOR THE YOGURT-PESTO DRESSING
- ¾ cup (190g) Greek strained plain yogurt, full fat*2
- 2 tablespoons pesto (preferably homemade)*3
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh basil, chopped
PREPARE THE VEGGIES
- Dice or slice the onion. In a small bowl, soak sliced/diced cucumber in iced water for about 20 minutes. Preferably drain and pat dry.
- Meanwhile, place the sliced cucumbers in a strainer, and add a generous pinch of salt. Toss well and drain for about 15 minutes. Rinse them off and pat them dry.
- Prepare the rest of the veggies. Shave or finely slice radishes and blanch the peas for a few minutes.
- Transfer the veggies to a bowl and toss well.
FOR THE YOGURT-PESTO DRESSING
- Mix the ingredients for the yogurt-pesto dressing in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Gently fold the yogurt-pesto dressing into the veggies. Place the salad in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
- Top with chopped fresh basil (optional).