So uniquely cool, crisp and refreshing, cucumbers are a welcome elixir on a hot sultry day. Toss them with a creamy lemon and dill vinaigrette, and you've got a fresh, versatile summer salad to go alongside just about anything.
This Creamy Cucumber Salad with Lemon and Dill is an updated version of a salad my mother served nearly every night during the summer. I wanted something similar to hers but with a modern, fresh feel.
I began by easing up on the sour cream in her recipe and adding a little extra-virgin olive oil to the mix. I swapped the distilled white vinegar for white wine vinegar and eliminated the sugar in the recipe completely. Instead of sliced onions I included a little diced shallot and added a little lemon juice and zest. This updated version of the standard Midwest cucumber salad was a real winner...light, refreshing and bright thanks to the addition of lemon.
How to Make a Great Cucumber Salad
Cucumber salads are meant to be simple, but there are a few steps that take this Creamy Cucumber Salad with Lemon and Dill from good to great:
- Use English cucumbers if you can find them. Also known as seedless cucumbers, English cucumbers make an elegant salad as there is no need to cut them in half and remove the seeds first. Garden cucumbers will also work just fine in this salad, and it is really just a matter of personal preference whether or not you want to remove the seeds prior to eating them.
- Salt the cucumbers to draw out some of the moisture. Cucumbers are more than 90% water. Sprinkling them with salt and letting them sit for 30 minutes or so helps draw some of that water out of the cucumber and ultimately leads to a more crisp, delicious salad. An extra step, yes, but one definitely worth taking.
- Pat the cucumbers dry. Once you've let your salted cucumbers sit, transfer them to a baking sheet lined with paper towels or a non-terry kitchen towel. Pat them dry prior to tossing them with the vinaigrette. Again, this just ups the crisp factor in the final product.
While this Creamy Cucumber Salad with Lemon and Dill makes an excellent side dish, it is also perfectly capable of being the star of the show. Consider topping some crispbread with a heaping spoonful of cucumber salad for lunch, or better yet, start with a bed of sliced avocado! A delicious Nordic summertime riff on avocado toast.
My personal favorite way to serve this Creamy Cucumber Salad with Lemon and Dill is in a simple bowl with hearty whole grains, garden vegetables and sliced avocado. I used brown rice in my bowl, pictured below, but barley or farro would both be delicious here.
I hope you have a chance to try this Creamy Cucumber Salad with Lemon and Dill sometime soon! It's sure to become a summertime favorite. And please let me know if you do in the comments below! I love hearing from you.
Creamy Cucumber Salad with Lemon and Dill
- 1 large English cucumber or 2 medium garden cucumbers, unpeeled and sliced thin (see note below)
- 1 ½ tsp coarse salt + more for seasoning
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon zest finely grated zest from one lemon
- 1` tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp fresh dill chopped
- pinch ground pepper
- Transfer cucumber slices to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat evenly Let the cucumbers sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.Meanwhile, make the dressing.
- Combine the shallot and the white wine vinegar in a medium bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes to mellow out the shallot flavor.Add sour cream, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and dill to the bowl and whisk until combined.
- Transfer the cucumbers to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Pat dry.Add the cucumbers to the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cover and chill until ready to serve. This salad is best after it has had a chance to chill for 30 minutes or so. It can be made several hours or up to a day ahead of time.