The Easiest Summer Side Salad
I’m posting a couple days earlier than usual to share this no-cook summer dish ahead of the upcoming Independence Day holiday — a recipe that is, and forever will be, a summertime staple on my family table. (Hi, Dad!)
Crisp cucumber and vidalia onion slices are a classic pair tossed in vinegar and dill, with just a bit of salt and sugar to balance. Flowering season of our garden chives winding down, I took the liberty of embellishing mine with crushed blossoms for color and flavor.
Simplicity is key to this refreshingly cool side salad. It perfectly hits the spot alongside barbecued dishes, with a picnic spread, or at any summer lunch, brunch or supper meal. Leftovers, if there are any, are terrific eaten straight out of the refrigerator, tucked in a salad or cold grain/rice/noodle bowl, with hiyayakko (Japanese cold tofu), even piled onto a sandwich, burger or toast with yogurt or cheese.
Best with fresh, in-season cucumbers, you can enjoy it any day of the year thanks to a constant supply of cucumbers at nearly every market. Though we prefer it cold, the salad can also be served at room temperature, making this is an excellent make-ahead option for gatherings.
What’s in it for me?
Cucumber contains 97% water by volume — considered the most hydrating of any solid food — not surprising given it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melons. A single serving (1 cup of slices, with peel) comes in at only 15 calories, with roughly 5% each of your daily needs for vitamin C, potassium and manganese, plus more than 20% that of vitamin K. Cucumbers are also the source of fisetin, an anti-inflammatory flavonol that may play an important role in brain health.
Only 8 to 10 thin rings of onion offers 1 gram protein, 6 grams carbohydrate, only 2.5 grams sugar, and virtually zero sodium, fat, and cholesterol for approximately 25 calories. This serving also provides about 7% of your daily vitamin C needs, 5% of your vitamin B6, and 4% that of fiber. Sulfur compounds present help synthesize the inflammation-reducing and immuno-protective antioxidant glutathione.
Fresh or dried dill, like other herbs, contains a variety of nutrients and oils that provide us with additional antioxidant benefits, plus anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Chive blossoms impart a mild, almost sweet onion-y flavor, and in the limited quantity in this recipe, a very small amount of the antioxidant vitamins A and C.
Dilled cucumber and onion salad with blossoms is as refreshing and beautiful as it is simple. If not already, perhaps it’ll become your family’s new favorite hot weather side!
Wishing you and yours a delicious, fun and festive Fourth of July, Heather
Tell me… Do you make a similar salad in your family? What’s your go-to summertime side?
- 2 large unwaxed seedless cucumbers, or 4 medium to large regular cucumbers, ends trimmed (to yield about 4 cups of slices)
- 3 Tbsp regular white or apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
- 1 small to medium sweet onion, such as a vidalia
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, or 1 Tbsp dried dill
- crushed chive blossoms, to garnish (optional)
- In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, water, sugar and salt until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
- Rinse and scrub the cucumbers well. If using the unwaxed cucumbers, you can leave the peel on, OR (to make it look pretty when sliced) either use a vegetable peeler to take alternating strips of the peel off, or score the length of the cucumber with the tines of a fork. If using a standard American-style waxed cucumber, peel the entire cucumber.
- Use a mandoline or sharp knife to carefully slice both the cucumbers and the onion into thin circles. Separate the onion slices into individual rings (or half moons, depending on how you sliced it).
- Add the cucumber, onion and dill to the vinegar mixture, and toss to thoroughly combine and coat. Taste, and adjust as needed with more vinegar, more salt or pepper, or more sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature (or in the refrigerator if you prefer it chilled) for about 30 to 45 minutes, or refrigerate up to 1 day.
- When ready, transfer to a new bowl, or serve directly from the mixing bowl. Garnish with chive blossoms, if desired.
+ Swap any fresh or dried herb you prefer for the dill. I imagine the more delicate herbs would be best, e.g., tarragon, chives, basil, chervil, even mint or fennel fronds.
+ Try white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar in place of the regular white or apple cider vinegar.
+ Use red onion instead of white/yellow.
+ Add some heat with fresh chopped chillies or a sprinkling of dried hot red chilli flakes.
An HGN (dad!) original recipe.
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