Spring is here, which means summer is near, which means you’d better start dieting if you want to get into your swimming suit!
I am joking, but only partially. Warm weather is the best motivation to say goodbye to cozy comfort food and switch to lighter, low-calorie and low-fat foods like cucumber salads. There are several reasons why I simply adore cucumber salads.
Besides being absolutely fresh and delicious, these summery dishes are very quick and easy to make. In addition, they give you an opportunity to experiment and make them different every time. Be it the method of cutting, the other ingredients you use along with the cukes, or the dressings and seasonings, cucumber salads are anything but boring!
Let’s not forget about their healthiness. Cucumbers are packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals and protect the body from diseases. They also contain vitamin K and magnesium which are great for the bones, as well as vitamin C that boosts your immunity. Moreover, essential minerals like magnesium and potassium lower the levels of bad cholesterol and regulate blood pressure, thus protecting you against heart diseases.
If this is not enough to persuade you, keep reading to find out how to combine your cukes and produce the best cucumber salads.
Cucumber Salad Recipes with Vegetables
Did you know that cukes are actually a fruit? Nevertheless, we have always considered them a veggie and often combined them with other veggies.
Tomatoes are the most common veggie choice to include in cucumber salads. Tomatoes, like cucumbers, are also a great source of vitamins C and K. Moreover, they are rich in vitamins A, E, and B6, niacin, folate, biotin, fiber, as well as essential minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, molybdenum, and phosphorus.
To make a super easy tomato & cucumber salad, slice four tomatoes and two cucumbers. Add one chopped red onion and season with fresh basil, olive oil, and salt.
Lettuce is rich in dietary fiber, biotin, vitamins C, B1 and B6, manganese, copper, potassium, and iron. In addition, it is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and pantothenic acid.
For a completely green and utterly delish salad, combine one butter lettuce and one cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise, then complement with shaved parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, a bit of caster sugar, salt, and pepper.
Cucumber Salad Recipes with Fruits
I love combining cucumbers with fruits. I must admit that I used to be skeptical about such combinations at first, but once I’ve tried them, I got hooked. The secret is to use the right dressing!
Nothing teleports you faster to a tropical beach than pineapple! This yellow fruit is rich in vitamins C, B1 and B6, as well as manganese, folate, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid.
To make a super-fast tropical salad, combine one sliced pineapple with one sliced cucumber, then add some chopped fresh cilantro and season with lime juice, salt, and pepper.
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber, and antioxidants. To make a super colorful salad, combine one pint of sliced strawberries and two small cucumbers, then make a simple vinaigrette by mixing 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of honey!
Cucumber Salad Recipes with Pasta
Adding pasta to your cucumber salad transforms this simple starter dish into a delicious main course. Salads usually call for cold pasta, so they are a great way to save yesterday’s leftovers.
Medium sized pasta like rotini or penne works best, but there’s no harm in using any kind of pasta like spaghetti or even tortellini. If you are going for the healthiest possible alternative, choose whole wheat pasta. Use spelt for feeding wheat-intolerant people or, for gluten-free salads, quinoa pasta.
Combine ½ lb. pasta with one cucumber and an onion, then cover in and a creamy dressing made with mayonnaise, sour cream, white vinegar, a bit of sugar, fresh dill, salt, and pepper.
When choosing noodles, opt for soba buckwheat noodles, or wheat flour udon and ramen noodles.
For a more exotic take on cucumber salad, use 3 oz. noodles combined with one cucumber, then add some chopped cilantro and mint. Make a dressing with almond butter, lime juice, ginger, olive oil, sesame oil, tamari sauce, and chili garlic sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and crushed peanuts!
Many exotic cucumber salad varieties, besides exquisite sauces, herbs, and spices, often make use of crunchy nuts and seeds.
Nuts are nutritional powerhouses rich in heart-healthy fats, proteins, as well as numerous vitamins and minerals. The abovementioned sesame seeds are also very nutritive, offering a wide range of good-for-you elements like calcium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1, and dietary fiber.
Cucumber Salad Recipes with Cheese
If you are wondering which type of cheese is the best to use in cucumber salads, the answer is – any kind. Goat cheese, blue, cottage, mozzarella, parmesan… whatever type you choose, you can be sure that your salad will be nutritious and fulfilling.
This type of cheese offers high levels of vitamins A and B, riboflavin, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.
Don’t let the modest appearance of this salad fool you! It may look plain but it is full of flavors. It contains 1 lb. cucumbers, one red onion, and 2 oz. goat cheese, topped with a dressing made with plain, low-fat yogurt, mayonnaise, chopped fresh parsley, dill, and/or mint leaves, and seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Note: Whenever possible, opt for reduced-fat dressings. Choose reduced fat instead of non-fat yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, or mayonnaise as a base for your homemade dressings because your body needs just a small amount of fat in order to absorb the nutritive elements from the salad ingredients more easily.
Cucumber Salad Recipes with Meat
When it comes to meat, the general rule to follow is – the lighter the better. This means that red meat is out of question. Instead, focus on chicken and seafood.
When choosing chicken, it is best to opt for organic varieties in order to avoid consumption of hormone and antibiotic-raised meat. Organic chicken is a great source of niacin, protein, and selenium, as well as vitamin B6, phosphorus, pantothenic acid, choline, and vitamin B12.
To make a Thai chicken cucumber salad, start by marinating 6-8 chicken filets in a mixture made with coriander, black pepper, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and curry paste for at least 10 minutes. After the meat is cooked, combine it with daikon and cucumber slices and season with lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. Garnish with chopped peanuts and coriander. Optionally, you can also add boiled rice.