Marinated Baby Cucumber Salad

Saturday night I stopped at the store to quickly pick up some ingredients for dinner. Just some ground beef and a vegetable...which of course turned into me needing a cart because I bought all sorts of other things I thought I "had" to any rate, all these items would get eaten so it really wasn't a waste, and I wanted to capitalize on sales! Right in the doorway of the store were baby seedless cucumbers and mini sweet bell peppers...they were so cute I had to have them to experiment with. The peppers were stuffed with saffron-scented goodness (more to come on that one later) but the cucumbers were promptly made into a salad. My mom made marinaded cucumber salads a lot in the summer, so I decided to use my little cucumbers to do a spiced up version. This salad also had a second inspiration, because I like to watch New Scandinavian Cooking hosted by Andreas Viestad and he made various marinated vegetable salad with spices, and I thought I could come up with my own combination of flavors. The one combination I am sure of is star anise with beets...the other salads involved carrots, cucumber, and fennel, and the seeds were cumin, coriander, and mustard. I can't remember which went with what, but it was a springboard for an idea for me.

These little baby cucumbers are so fresh and tender that they didn't need to have a heavy oily dressing...just a light apple cider vinaigrette with a small spattering of herbs and spices. I didn't want to mask their natural flavors, I just wanted to enhance them.

Dill and cucumbers are a match made in heaven, and mustard and celery seed go with sweet pickles as well. For my version of marinaded cucumber salad, I cut back on the sweetness a lot; I only used a touch of honey for a subtle sweet pickle flavor. I made the dressing more simple by microwaving it instead of cooking a simple syrup-like vinaigrette on the stove. I liked this salad so much I made a second batch this week! It's good to eat immediately, but tastes even better if it sits overnight. It's great next to the hearty winter dishes I'm still cooking up...but winter seems to be coming to a close here is west Texas...spring seems to have sprung a bit early, but it's not completely unwelcome!

Marinated Baby Cucumber Salad
Printable Recipe

4 baby seedless cucumbers (each about 5-6 inches long), cut into slices
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp dried dill
salt and pepper

1. Add cucumber slices to a lidded medium bowl. Salt and pepper them, cover with a lid and shake vigorously to release some of the water from the cukes. Then set them aside while you prepare the dressing.
2. Add water, vinegar, honey, and seeds to a small microwave-proof bowl or measuring cup. Heat in the microwave until steaming, 30 sec-1 min.
3. Pour the hot dressing over the cucumbers and sprinkle over the dill. Toss thoroughly. For best results, allow to marinade in the refrigerator at least overnight before serving so the mustard seed plump a little bit and the cucumbers absorb the vinaigrette.

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