Stay cool with this refreshing cucumber and peppermint salad. It is just the right thing on those extra hot summer and early fall days and evenings—and we definitely get our share of those during the summer and fall here in Sacramento, California. During the summer months and into the fall (in warm climate areas), Farmers markets and grocery store produce sections are flooded with all different kinds of cucumbers.
Most cucumbers taste great in this salad. The last few years, I have been growing cucumbers in my garden and the Armenian cucumber, has become one of my favorites especially for this salad. They are sometimes called “Armenian Yard Long” for good reason. If you let them go, they will get really long, I had one that grew to almost 36 inches. They taste better, though when they are around 12–16 inches. They have a great cucumber taste and a pale green flesh, the same often the same color as their skin. Their skin is thin and sometimes tender enough that the cucumbers don’t need peeling. Give it a taste with and without peeling to see what you like. I usually peel them.
Korean melons are really refreshing in this salad too. They are very similar to cucumbers in that they have a crisp refreshing texture. They are sweet, but not as sweet as melons, more like a cross between a cucumber and a honeydew melon. When they are ripe and fully matured, they have a beautiful yellow-orange hue. Unfortunately, their skin is too tough to leave on so we don’t get to see that in the salad. I love using both the cucumber and Korean melon in this salad when I have them at the same time. It makes a refreshing afternoon snack.
Some cucumbers taste bitter and will not make for a refreshing salad. It’s best to cut a few slices and taste the cucumbers first. One kind in particular to watch out is the pickling cucumber. I have found if a cucumber has a slight bitterness, it gets even more bitter (not the fun bitter) with time and can ruin your dish.
Peppermint has a more subtle mint taste than spearmint but equally refreshing with a little pepper kick. Its leaves are smooth, tender and bright deep green color. Peppermint isn’t as common in grocery stores as spearmint though. If you can’t find peppermint, a combination of spearmint and arugula will give a similar flavor profile and be equally good.
This cool cucumber & peppermint salad comes together so quickly too. If you have one of those handy mandolines to slice the cucumber and red onions, it goes even faster and the slices are even. Cool cucumber salad is best when the cucumbers have been refrigerated and are really cold or chilled for at least an hour before serving. It is really perfect dressed lightly with the tomatillo-lime dressing below, but if you want it on the table even faster, skip the dressing and simply squeeze a lime on it. This salad can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated until you are ready to serve. It makes a great side dish for the Castelvetrano Olive, Tomato & Noodle salad.
Cool Cucumber & Peppermint Salad
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2 cucumbers, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4in thick
2 Korean melons, peeled, and sliced 1/4in thick
1 cup of fresh peppermint leaves torn up in to pieces or cut in 1/4in ribbons
1/3 cup red onion sliced thinly, about half a small-medium red onion
2–3 Tbls of lime juice
1/3 cup tomatillo-lime dressing
4 medium tomatillos, cut in quarters
2 Tbls lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
1 clove garlic, grated or pressed
1 tsp sweet white or chickpea miso (optional)
Tools I Use: Serving bowl; vegetable peeler; coring tool; mandoline or slicing knife; stick blender and cup (or blender)
Core the cucumbers and slice about 1/4in slices and put in the bowl, or use a handheld mandoline and slice the cucumbers right into the bowl. For most mandolines the highest setting is perfect.
Peel the Korean melons if using and slice in 1/4in slices
The same can be done with the onion, you may want a thinner slice, about 1/8in.
Tear or cut the peppermint into chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll up and cut into 1/4in ribbons).
Add to the bowl and toss the ingredients together.
Put all the dressing ingredients in the blender cup (or blender). Using a pulsing technique (on 2 seconds, off, on again) blend until smooth.
Pour around the bowl sides (for better distribution) and toss.
Garnish with some fresh uncut peppermint leaves and/or slices of lime.
The dressing makes about 1 cup, so there will be extra. The extra can stored in the refrigerator and used for other salads, as a marinade or drizzled on roasted vegetables. But if you don’t want the extra, just reduce the quantity of each ingredient by about half.
SOS Free: Leave out the miso from the tomatillo dressing if using. The lime juice and the tomatillo give it a nice tartness that is flavorful and refreshing without any form of salt.