My husband and I have been together long enough that recipes he recalls my making him our first year dating seem like ancient history to me. This Mediterranean Cucumber Salad was a recipe I learned just before we started dating, so it’s gonna take us way back…
In my first year of grad school, a friend made his Israeli salad with cucumber, bell pepper, onion, and cilantro. I’m a sucker for each of those ingredients, especially the cilantro.
I immediately fell in love with it (as does everyone who tries it). The recipe is the perfect combination of a raw veggie (and fruit) salad. It’s easy to make, keeps well in transport, and, because it doesn’t have any dairy, is the perfect recipe for an outdoor get-together!
Mediterranean Cucumber Salad
This is the perfect dish to make right now because bell peppers and cucumbers are in season. We buy red bell peppers year round because they’re a staple for my husband’s Low FODMAP diet, but I always love growing them in our garden in the summer and getting them at the farmers market. And cucumbers are in their prime all season long!
This Mediterranean Cucumber Salad is the perfect spring and summer dish because the flavors are so bright and light, but it’s also really filling. I love eating this for lunch too. The recipe below is for a salad big enough to share, but you can always make a single serving.
See what’s in season in summer (and relevant recipes).
Making Perfect Quinoa
Quinoa is one of those seemingly fancy things that’s surprisingly easy to make. It’s especially easy if you make quinoa in your rice cooker!
Quinoa is like most other grains in that on its own, it’s quite bland, but with just a bit of seasoning or good olive oil, it becomes quickly delicious. And, obviously, adding more tasty ingredients ensure you’ll love quinoa.
If you don’t love quinoa or, like me, if you love quinoa but not everyone in your world does, feel free to leave it out. The original salad didn’t have quinoa, I just like the extra bit of protein and fiber it adds!
Hot House vs. Persian vs. English Cucumbers
I never really understood the difference between the two main kinds of cucumbers – hot house and English. Now that I do, however, it’s no competition.
The skin on hot house cucumbers is a lot thicker, a lot chewier, and a lot more work. I also think they don’t have as much flavor.
English cucumbers, however, have a thin, delicious skin that you will happily eat. I typically see them in long versions (about 12″) and, sadly, wrapped in plastic. Persian cucumbers are also a small, delicious cucumber option – honestly my favorite of the 3, but I’ll happily eat and serve either the English or the Persian varietals!
Easy Mediterranean Salad
Just behind how delicious this Mediterranean cucumber salad is just how easy it is. Once you have the quinoa made – which can be done a day ahead of time even – you just chop and mix.
For this recipe I used english cucumbers, red bell peppers, a red onion, and fresh cilantro. Chop all the veggies into small bite sized pieces (really you want to be able to get more than one veggie in each forkful – so chop accordingly)!
After you mix the veggies and quinoa, add the olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. You can use any extra virgin olive oil you want, but I’d encourage you to make it a good one. Lately I’ve been using Lucini, Cobram Estate, and any of the varieties from Seka Hills! All three are local here in Sacramento!
We don’t think about the flavor of olive oil much, but once you start using nicer oils to “finish” dishes (i.e. not cook the oil), you’ll really start to understand just how delicious a good olive oil is!
MEDITERRANEAN CUCUMBER SALAD
- Mix everything together.
- For best flavor, refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Taste and season with salt & pepper if more is needed.