You’re gonna love this extremely easy and fresh Smashed Cucumber Salad, served with loads of feta, mint, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
I had a party the other weekend and made this absolutely stunning cheese, charcuterie, and crudité board. Actually it was more of a table than a board, but you know what I mean. But, I forgot to cut up the cucumbers I bought, had a bunch leftover in the fridge, and wanted to come up with a stellar recipe for them. I present to you the Smashed Cucumber Salad with Feta and Mint. A simple and delicious mix of crunchy cucumbers, nuts and seeds, with creamy feta, crisp mint leaves, red onion, all tossed in a bright vinaigrette.
This is not the first cucumber salad I’ve put on my blog, and it won’t be the last. You could say I’m obsessed. It’s weird, because I’ve always HATED when there are sliced cucumbers thrown into a salad of lettuce. They’re bland, watery, and to me, never added anything. But then I discovered what happens when you salt them first.
Salting First is an Important Step!
When making this smashed cucumber salad, you want to heavily salt the cucumbers first. Let ’em sit, chill out for a bit. The salt will pull out excess water while simultaneously permeating the cucumber, infusing flavor into the cucumbers that you won’t be able to get just by dressing them. Then you’ll rinse the cucumbers and pat them dry before tossing with the other salad ingredients.
- English Cucumbers – The large, long kind with the thin green skin.
- Lemon Juice – Fresh squeezed is best. I would never buy the kind you get in a bottle. I can actually taste the difference.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – A good quality olive oil makes all the difference! Cold-pressed is best.
- Slivered Almonds – I like slivered for this recipe, found here (or in most grocery stores), but you can buy the sliced ones too.
- Sunflower Seeds – Raw and shelled, found here, or in most grocery stores.
- Feta Cheese – I think the kind that comes in a block is much better than pre-crumbled. But it’s up to you!
Smashed Cucumber Salad with Feta and Mint
- 1 Medium Bowl
- 1 Small Pan
- Paper Towels
- Mallet or Heavy Bowl to smash cucumbers
- 2 English cucumbers ends trimmed, cut into quarters lengthwise
- Kosher salt
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons raw slivered almonds
- 3 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
- ½ medium red onion peeled and thinly sliced
- ½ cup crumbled feta
- ½ cup packed fresh mint leaves
- Lay the cucumbers out on a cutting board. Sprinkle heavily with salt, about 1 tablespoon per English cucumber. Toss to coat all around. Let sit for 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the minced garlic, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, little by little, until emulsified. Season with ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt (double this amount if doubling the recipe) and a decent grinding of freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat a small dry pan over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Then add sunflower seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 more minutes, until nuts and seeds are golden and toasted. Remove from heat.
- Rinse the cucumbers under cold water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Transfer to a cutting board and smash with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy bowl (Be careful of cucumber pieces flying). Then cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Place cucumbers, red onion, feta, mint, almonds, and sunflower seeds into a serving bowl with as much of the dressing as you'd like. Toss to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.