A light and refreshing salad loaded with tonnes of crunch and texture. Cucumber Walnut Salad is tangy, salty, cheesy, and best served chilled.
When it comes to salad and summertime, nothing beats a light and refreshing salad with a tonne of flavour and a tonne of crunch. Well, actually, that’s a lie! Do you know what does beat it? A light and refreshing salad with a tonne of flavour and a tonee of crunch that’s easy to prepare and also easy on the wallet. Wouldn’t you agree?
We are not the salad type. I don’t mean that we don’t like salads. I simply mean that we don’t eat them as often as we should. That just might change though, because I’ve been experimenting with summery salads that are free of lettuce and tomato. I love lettuce and tomato, but if they’re in every salad you eat, they become boring and bland quite fast. If you want a change from the everyday, let’s talk about this Cucumber Walnut Salad!
What type of cucumbers should I use?
To be honest, you can use any type of cucumber you like the most, but if I had to make a recommendation, it would most certainly be English cucumbers. These are sometimes known as hothouse cucumbers as well. English cucumbers are usually a little more expensive, but because there are so few ingredients in this salad, it would be wise to use the best.
Unlike other generic cucumbers, English cucumbers are seedless, which means they will release much less water when sliced – this will keep your salad from getting too watery!
You will know English cucumbers by three criteria – they are a really deep green colour, the one end looks rather pinched instead of evenly rounded like the end of most cucumbers, and lastly, English cucumbers are almost always wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.
Is toasting the walnuts important?
Simply put, yes! Toasting your nuts will not stop global warming or be the catalyst that brings world peace, but it will certainly have an effect on the taste of your final product. It literally takes just a few minutes, so what do you have to lose? When you prepare a recipe such as this one with very few ingredients, it’s important to get every ingredient working to the best of its ability.
When you toast nuts or seeds, the flavour intensifies. The aromas and natural oils are awakened and those come through in the flavour. Toasting also helps to increase the snap and crunchiness of the nuts. Plus, they turn a deep golden-brown colour and look much more appetizing.
What if I don’t have pickled red onions?
If you don’t have any pickled red onions at home, you can use just the same amount of finely chopped red onion. The flavour of freshly chopped red onion is a little more pungent than this salad needs, so I’m going to teach you a little trick.
First, for those of you who have no pickled red onions at home, I need to ask why? They are so easy to prepare and trust me, once you do, you’ll find so many things to do with them. Keep a jar in your fridge at all times – I do! As luck may have it, there’s a recipe for Pickled Red Onions right here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen. There – no excuses!
Okay, let’s get back to that trick. Once you’ve chopped your onions, add them to a small bowl with equal parts cold water. So, in this case, you will add a quarter cup of water to your quarter cup of finely chopped red onions. Allow the onions to soak for at least ten minutes. Then, drain the water from the onions and squeeze out the excess. There you go – red onions that are way less pungent!
Can any of the ingredients be substituted?
My entire life is about substitutions. I’m not a trained cook. I’ve learned by means of trial and error that with the exception of baking, substitutions are allowed – and even encouraged!
For this recipe, use the cucumber you love the most. If you want to scrape out the seeds, do so. If not, leave them in; just know that cucumbers with seeds will release more water making for a wet salad. Don’t have red onions or pickled red onions? Use white onions; use green onions – they will work just the same!
Feta can be interchanged with a few different cheeses. Ricotta is the first cheese that comes to mind. It can be crumbled, but will certainly be less salty. Cotija will work great as well. Cotija is a Mexican cheese that crumbles quite well and tastes much like a strong parmesan. Let’s see – goat cheese! Super crumbly, but very creamy. Goat cheese can be rather bland, so you may need to add a little more salt.
How should I store any leftovers?
If you have any leftovers, the best way to store them would be to transfer the salad to a food safe container with a tight fitting lid. Place in the refrigerator. The salad will last in the fridge for about 24-36 hours. I don’t think I’d want to eat it much past that time frame. The cucumbers will release a lot of water, which will certainly impact the crunchiness of the walnuts. They might become a little soggy, which would not be a pleasant thing to put into your mouth.
If you feel that you might not want any leftovers at all, take a look at the size of the recipe. You can just half every single ingredient to make a salad that’s half the size. This particular recipe will serve eight people as a side, but I’d guess it would serve about 3 or 4 people as a meal.
Cucumber Walnut Salad is what I would refer to as peasant food. (That doesn’t sound like a good thing, but I’m sure you know what I mean!) Every ingredient in this recipe is cheap and readily available. Most of you will already have garlic and onion powder, as well as ground black pepper and salt in your spice cabinets.
Cucumbers are certainly cheap, especially in the summertime. Most people would make this salad in the summertime anyway. We usually tend to eat heartier salads in colder weather. I tend to buy walnuts in bulk. I know buying nuts in bulk is frowned upon, but if you keep the unused portion in your fridge or freezer, they will last much, much longer.
I trust you’ll enjoy this Cucumber Walnut Salad, Dear Reader. We enjoyed it quite a bit! Even on the second day, the sliced English cucumbers were firm and crunchy, and the walnuts had still retained their texture. That’s a win in my opinion!
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Cucumber Walnut Salad
- 2 large cucumbers, washed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup pickled red onions, (fresh sliced red onions will do just fine)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1 cup walnut pieces, toasted
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Over medium heat, add the walnuts to a dry skillet and toast until they smell nutty and are slightly darkened in colour. Remove from heat and transfer to a wide, shallow bowl to cool completely. Set aside.
- Whisk together the olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, ground black pepper, and salt. Set aside.
- Add the sliced cucumber and onions to a large mixing bowl. Set aside one tablespoon of the toasted walnuts, and add the rest to the bowl with the cucumber. Set aside one tablespoon of the feta and add the rest to the bowl with the cucumbers and walnuts.
- Poor over the olive oil mixture and toss well to coat.
- Plate and garnish with the remaining walnuts, feta, and some chopped parsley if desired.
- Serve immediately or chill for one hour.
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