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By Karen England for Let’s Talk Plants! July 2024.

WiX stock photo of a delicious looking cucumber salad!

Cucumber Salads

“. . . Of one thing I feel sure, a working knowledge of both gardening and cooking would tend to give a young person in the inevitably difficult world of tomorrow an added confidence about living, a talisman in times of stress, and a reassuring sense of independence and power." - Constance Spry, Come into the Garden, Cook, 1942.

I like to write this column as a supplement to Sommer Cartier’s Grow in Abundance columns. Every other month Sommer writes all about growing vegetables (and more) successfully and in turn I use this article to add recipes for using the garden abundance that surely follows from taking Sommer’s advice. This month Sommer instructs us about How to Successfully Grow Cucumbers and upon reading it I immediately craved the cucumber salads that I never fail to order at Asian restaurants. And then, my mouth still watering, I remembered the cucumber salad my German grandmother made and instantly got hungry for a creamy cucumber salad. So, I started researching cucumber salads on the internet with a sub search of the Let’s Talk Plants! newsletter archives and I hit “pay dirt”! (or should I say, “pay soil”?)

Alice Lowe wrote the following in her Garden Gourmet column of Let’s Talk Plants! July 2008, No. 166, about Pasta Salads for Summer Suppers in which cucumbers featured prominently…

“Summer cooking can be a joy, with most fresh vegetables at their peak. But it can be a challenge when it’s too hot, or you lack the time or energy for serious cooking. That’s when you may want to have fun with pasta salads as a main dish or as a side with something from the grill.

You don’t need exacting recipes – your choices are limited only by your own tastes and what you have available. An easy guide is to combine items from a variety of categories: protein (meat, etc.), vegetables, savory or sweet add-ins and toppers, and your dressing of choice. You may want to build your dish around grilled chicken breasts, fresh shrimp, a can of tuna or beans, or a package of tofu. Your veggies can be a catch-all of everything you can get your hands on or a selective few. It gets more interesting when you add complementary accents of cheeses, nuts and seeds, olives, capers, and/or bits of dried fruit. Your dressing can be whatever you like – a vinaigrette, creamy ranch, blue cheese or maybe a special sauce. Keep in mind that the shape and size of various pastas do make a difference in the texture, balance and appearance of your dish. As examples, I’ve put together a few theme dishes.

Let’s start with Mexican...

... I might use shells or rotini, with chunks of chicken, tomatoes, onions and peppers, cilantro, and pepper jack cheese. A wonderful dressing is to mix chunky salsa with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; top with crumbled tortilla or corn chips.

Greek is my main standby. I like a chunky pasta, like macaroni or ziti, to which I add tomatoes, cucumber, artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans, lots of parsley, feta or goat cheese, green and black Greek olives. My dressing is a garlicky citrus Dijon vinaigrette, and I top it with toasted pine nuts or pistachios and anchovies (optional, of course).

An Italian pasta salad is like an antipasto tossed with noodles. Start with spaghetti or linguine; add Italian meats, fresh and sundried tomatoes, arugula, sliced carrots and zucchini, provolone and mozzarella cheese, croutons, Italian or Caesar dressing.

Japanese: Soba noodles or vermicelli work great, with chopped cucumber and carrot, green onions, radishes and/or radish sprouts, shrimp, crab or sashimi grade raw fish, and a dressing made with peanut and sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, soy or ponzu sauce, and a dash of siracha if you like it hot; sprinkle sesame seeds and dried seaweed over the top.

I’m just getting warmed up here, but I’ve run out of space. You get the picture, right? Just use your noodle!”

WiX stock photo of a delicious looking salad featuring cucumber...

So, taking a cue from Alice and her cultural approach to pasta salad and applying it to cucumber salads specifically, I found the following post of twelve cucumber salad recipes that I wanted to share with you.

The author of the post, Carl Hanson, titled the piece 12 Amazing Cucumber Salads Around the World and I must say I was/am amazed. Follow the link above for the recipes but here are the twelve salads:

  • Hungarian Cucumber Salad

  • Israeli Tomato & Cucumber Salad

  • Tzatziki

  • Cucumber Sunomono

  • Thai Cucumber Salad

  • Spicy Korean Red Pepper Cucumbers

  • Mexican Cucumber Salad

  • Tiger Salad

  • Arabic Fattoush Salad

  • Gurkensalat (German Cucumber Salad)

  • Mizeria (Polish Cucumber Salad)

  • Tomato Cucumber Kachumbar


Carl ends the post with several links to even more cucumber salad recipes!

I told you, “pay dirt”!


Herbs, fruits and vegetables feature prominently in Karen England's cuisine.

SD Hort president Karen England loves a good cucumber salad!



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