Last Updated on July 7, 2021
It is that time of year when, even if the weather forecast says ‘rain’ we are all trying to spend time in the garden. Having a selection of easy to prepare salads up your sleeve is a great way to cut time in the kitchen and, a bit like my simple potato salad recipe, I particularly like this mint and cucumber salad because it can be made in advance (and indeed improves with a few hours in the fridge). The onions are lightly pickled in lime juice for an Asian touch to this ultra-refreshing, make-ahead salad.
It’s also a great use for all that mint I’ve got growing. There are only so many mojitos a girl can drink! The ingredients for mint and cucumber salad are achingly simple – mint, red onion, cucumber, a couple of limes (or wine vinegar if you prefer), good quality olive oil, salt, pepper and a little sugar.
I like to start the night before with this recipe, by peeling and slicing the red onion really thinly then putting it in a Tupperware tub with the lime juice and half a teaspoon of sugar. It’s a mild pickle that takes the edge of the onion. If you prefer a stronger flavour, you can just slice your onion on the day and mix it up with lime juice and sugar. And, if you really don’t like a strong onion taste then substitute a handful of finely chopped chives or spring onions for a much milder end result.
The next thing to do is to deseed and slice your cucumber. First, wash and slice your cucumber lengthwise to make it easy to remove the seeds I like a reasonably chunky result so cut bite-size pieces of cucumber once I’ve scooped out the seeds with a grapefruit spoon.
The cucumber chunks go into a large colander sprinkled with a teaspoon or so of sea salt and left to drain for half an hour. Then, rinse off the salt and dry them in a clean tea towel or with kitchen paper.
Put the olive oil into a wide topped jar with a good screw top lid.
Pick off the mint leaves leaving one or two pretty sprigs to garnish the dish. Don’t chop the mint, but instead tear the leaves roughly into the olive oil. Now, drain the lime juice from the onion mixture into the oil and season the dressing with salt and pepper. Put the lid on the jar and shake well, then taste and adjust the seasoning
Put the onions and cucumber in a bowl and pour over the dressing. At this stage, I mix the whole thing with my hands, but you can use salad servers if you prefer.
You can safely cover this salad and keep it in the fridge for a day. In fact, I think it improves with an hour or so of resting time.
If you are worried about burping, then you’ll find ‘burpless’ cucumbers in Asian supermarkets – they are grown to have reduced cucurbitacin, the chemical compound believed to cause burping. Personally, I don’t seem to have a problem with this salad but the varieties sold as burpless tend to have thinner skins and work very well here.
Like most salads, this easy mint and cucumber salad is one you can adapt to your own taste. I like it made with chives if I’m not going to be eating anything spicy and powerful. And, you can substitute some or all of the mint for coriander. You can also use wine vinegar or rice vinegar instead of lime juice. And, it works well with a handful of black olives added for an extra flavour dimension.
Here’s a printable recipe for you to use. Do try for yourself and let me know how you get on with this.
Mint and Cucumber Salad
- 1 small red onion
- 1 cucumber
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 handful fresh mint
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and finely slice the onion
- Put it in a plastic clip top container with the lime juice and sugar
- Shake well and put in the fridge to marinate for at least half an hour - ideally overnight
- Slice the cucumber lengthwise
- Use a teaspoon to remove the seeds and pulp from the cucumber
- Cut the cucumber into 1/4cm thick chunks
- Put the cucumber pieces in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave to drain for half an hour or so.
- Rinse off the salt and dry the cucumber in a tea towel
- Drain the onion slices, reserving the lime juice
- Put the cucumber and onion slices into a bowl.
- Put the oil into a jar and add the lime juice to make a dressing
- Pick the leaves off the mint and tear them into the dressing jar
- Season the dressing well with salt and pepper, seal the jar and shake well to mix
- Pour the dressing over the cucumber and onion and use your hands to mix together
- This salad can be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours before serving