Refreshing and crunchy, salty and sweet: who could resist such an outstanding combination of flavours? In perfect harmony in this pared down version of Greek salad.
The day of the cucumbers
I have three cucumber plants growing in my garden this year and they have all gone absolutely crazy. Bonkers. Ballistic.
They were planted in a growbag on my patio and instead of, like in previous years, one quietly dying within days, one eaten by snails and the last producing three or four cukes during the season, all three are taking over the patio, neighbouring tomato plants and eyeing up the kitchen entrance.
It's mad: five cucumbers is the minimum crop per day. I thought they liked wet and rainy climes – this summer is the legendary drought.
They survived our few days’ absence, spewing out oversized greenies on welcome back.
It’s cucuclysmic. Snails are clearly scared of them. Neighbourhood cats are scared of them. I AM scared of them.
And so we eat cucumbers every day, for dinner, lunch and breakfast – well, the last has not yet come to pass but who knows. Our friends and neighbours are awash with cucumbers.
And I’m having to invent new and newer ways of serving them.
Obviously, I pick them small – though I do not quite always win in the race between growing and picking. Small are the best: those enormous salad cucumbers sold in supermarkets are a misunderstanding.
My cucumbers are the ridge variety, with relatively thick, knobbly skin. The skin is where the most nutrients sit but I like to peel it very lightly. Considering the amounts I’m eating, I get those nutrients in anyway.
As cucumbers contain mainly water, it’s good to draw some of it out and thus intensify the flavour.
It’s worth the small trouble of tossing them, chopped into chunks, with salt and a little sugar to rest for a quarter of an hour. Afterwards you can rinse them or just shake off and pat dry with paper towels.
If you do that with thinner slices, they will wilt considerably and can actually be squeezed out of the liquid, thus ending with interesting almost-pickles.
Cucumbers the Greek way
The combo of fresh cucumbers, salty feta and sweet honey is a well-known Greek classic.
I personally think it’s a better, minimalist version of Greek salad xoriatiki which means ‘rustic’, done to kill everywhere outside Greece. Without the onions and tomatoes which, incidentally, should not be consumed together with cucumbers, it’s a healthier dish and cleaner in flavours.
How to put it together? It couldn’t be simpler: you just toss everything together, having salted the cukes beforehand or not.
The addition of olives is totally optional, but you might enjoy the extra bitter factor in the mix.
It’s a perfect lunchtime salad, it can be a side dish to a barbecue or served with roast chicken for instance (what could not be served with roast chicken…?). Good quality ingredients, as ever, are the key.
And if you’re not afflicted with a bumper crop but go out to buy your cucumbers, choose the small, so called ‘mini’ ones or medium sized ridge ones.
More cucumber recipes
Chinese smashed cucumber salad with rice vinegar. Make this Asian smashed cucumbers salad as spicy as you like with chili flakes or red pepper flakes.
On a Middle Eastern note, dress your cucumbers with a cumin tahini dressing for an exquisite lunch or side dish.
Cooked cucumber is a thing: spicy bacon, cucumber and potato salad is served warm and tastes fiery hot!
More feta cheese recipes
Saganaki is a Greek dish of anything cooked and served in a small skillet, with cheese saganaki the most popular. This recipe for fried saganaki feta is dead simple and makes a super tasty snack or appetiser.
Roast chicken breast, sliced and sprinkled with fresh tarragon + melon balls or chunks + feta cheese + crunchy seeds and filo crumbs = an excellent salad.
A threesome of feta, grapes and walnuts is a harmony of the juicy, sweet, crunchy and salty in this simple, genius and completely, droolingly delightful salad.