I am writing this recipe in honor of my 96-year-old Great Grandmother, “Nanny G,” who always stocks her fridge with old school cucumber salad upon my arrival in Florida. She likes to “zhuzh” up the deli-bought version, but, as always, I was convinced I could make it even better from scratch. That is all I’m going to say about the backstory today because I saw this meme yesterday that made me crack up:
SHOPPING LIST: 3 cucumbers, 1 onion, 1 lemon, apple cider vinegar, dill, salt, sugar, red pepper flakes
Not only is this dish super simple to make, but it gets better as it sits! To start, in a small pot, combine 2 cups of water with 2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of sugar and bring the pot to a boil. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved and then turn off the heat. Add one cup of apple cider vinegar and reserve.
Trim the edges off your cucumbers, slice them in half lengthwise, then remove the seeds from each half so you have a cavernous U-shaped cucumber. Slice all your cucumbers in 1/2″ thick slices — the thickness of your sliced cucumbers is also a matter of preference; I prefer them thicker so they have a big crunch but you could also slice your cucumbers on a mandolin if you like them paper-thin. Peel your onion (red or white, up to you!), slice in half, and then thinly slice the onion along the grain.
Combine your sliced onions and cucumber in a mixing bowl and top with 1/2 tsp of black pepper, 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (more if you want it extra spicy) and 3 slices of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind). On a cutting board, dice a handful of dill and add on top of the cucumbers as well. Cover the entire mixture with the reserved “pickling” liquid and mix well. Refrigerate 6-8 hours before serving. ***When I serve this, I use a slotted spoon so the cucumber salad is not served with it’s juices, but whatever is leftover or unused, I keep in the liquid until serving!
This dish is so bright and refreshing. On Saturday night I served it alongside ribs (recipe forthcoming). The briny, crunchy salad was the perfect accoutrement to the unctuous slow-cooked pork meat. I love making this dish when hosting a brunch alongside your typical egg/tuna/chicken salads, lox + bagel situation. Sable’s does a great version of this if you’re not interested in making it yourself, it’s a bit sweeter than my recipe, but so are most of their “salads.” You can also give this simple salad a second life by making it creamy with 2 tB. of tzatziki and a handful of feta crumbles – taking the dill-iciousness to the next level. Back to the story-telling 🙂