Smashed Cucumber Salad with Feta-Dill Dressing and Pistachios is a delightful blend of minimal ingredients that deliver bold flavors. This crisp and fresh side dish pairs perfectly with burgers, sandwiches, or anything hot off the grill—capturing the trifecta of summer salads.
Cucumbers, typically relegated to supporting roles in salads, take center stage in this recipe. The smashing technique breaks down their flesh, creating delightful nooks and crannies for the dressing to infuse flavor. It’s a clever way to elevate the classic cucumber salad and enhance its taste.
This salad, requiring only six ingredients and basic kitchen equipment, is an ideal potluck recipe. It’s also a quick and easy last-minute side for weekday meals.
- Cucumbers: Any type can be used, but English or Persian cucumbers are preferred for their seedless nature. If using garden cucumbers, it’s advisable to remove the seeds.
- Feta Cheese: Opt for a block of feta for easier mashing. Alternatively, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt can be substituted for those not keen on feta.
- Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice adds a bright contrast to the richness of the cheese in the dressing.
- Olive Oil: Choose a good quality extra-virgin olive oil, not too grassy or bitter.
- Dill: The classic pairing of fresh cucumbers and dill imparts a delightful flavor reminiscent of dill pickles. Chives, parsley, or a mix of both with fresh tarragon can be used as alternatives.
- Pistachios: Opt for roasted, salted pistachios for a richer flavor, or toasted pine nuts as an alternative.
Directions: Step 1: Smash the Cucumbers
- Slice cucumbers into 4-inch pieces and cut each piece in half lengthwise.
- Place each piece cut side-down on a work surface.
- Using a chef’s knife, lightly smash down on the cucumber with your fist or palm. The skin will crack, and the flesh will break down.
- Break or slice the cucumbers diagonally into bite-size pieces and transfer to a bowl.
- Season cucumbers with salt.
Step 2: Prepare Feta-Dill Dressing
- In a separate bowl, thoroughly mash the feta using a fork.
- Mix in extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and cracked black pepper.
Step 3: Combine All Ingredients
- Add the feta dressing to the bowl with cucumbers, along with pistachios and fresh dill.
- Toss to combine, and garnish with extra herbs, cracked black pepper, and/or a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.
- Serve immediately.
FAQs and Expert Tips
Why Smash Cucumbers? Smashing cucumbers creates nooks and crannies, allowing the dressing to steep into the flesh, enhancing the flavor and texture of the salad.
What Goes with Smashed Cucumber Salad? Best served with burgers, sandwiches, or anything hot off the grill. Pair it with salmon burgers, Greek-marinated shrimp skewers, chipotle black bean burgers, or chicken-fried tofu sandwiches.
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips:
- Make-Ahead: Smash, slice, and salt the cucumbers up to 1 hour ahead. Drain them before mixing in the dressing to prevent excess water.
- Store: Best enjoyed fresh, but if making in advance, salt and drain the cucumbers beforehand to prevent the salad from becoming too watery.
- Slice the cucumbers crosswise into 4-inch long pieces. Cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place each piece of cucumber cut side-down on a work surface.
- Lay the blade of a chef’s knife flat on top of the cucumber and lightly smash down using your fist or the palm of your hand. The skin will begin to crack, and the flesh will break down.
- Break or slice the smashed cucumbers diagonally into bite-size pieces and transfer them to a bowl. Season the cucumbers with salt.
- In a separate bowl, place the feta and use a fork to thoroughly mash it. Mix in extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and cracked black pepper.
- Add the feta dressing to the bowl with cucumbers, along with pistachios and fresh dill. Toss the ingredients to combine.
- Garnish the salad with extra dill, cracked black pepper, and/or a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.
- Serve the cucumber and feta salad immediately and enjoy!
Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare the cucumbers by smashing, slicing, and salting up to 1 hour ahead. Ensure draining them before combining with the dressing, as they tend to expel water.
Storage Note: While this salad is ideally enjoyed fresh, if you plan to make it in advance, take the precaution of salting and draining the cucumbers beforehand. This step helps prevent the salad from becoming excessively watery, maintaining its optimal texture and flavor.
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Serving Size 1.25
- Amount Per Serving
- Calories 220
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat 17.5g27%
- Saturated Fat 4g20%
- Sodium 610mg26%
- Total Carbohydrate 6g2%
- Dietary Fiber 1g4%
- Sugars 3g
- Protein 6g12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.