Searching for the perfect salad for summer? Look no further! This Sesame Cucumber Salad has a cool crunch and a perfectly balanced taste, thanks to warm, nutty sesame oil and the gentle tang of rice vinegar. Jalapeno makes it pop!
Light & Refreshing Summer Salad
You’ve probably heard of the famous cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Those elements are supposed to be the basis of good cooking, and guess what?! They’re all here in this amazing and healthy side dish.
We’ve got just a touch of salt to season our base of yummy sliced cucumber. We’ve got the smooth, savory taste of sesame oil. There’s a hint of acidity from cool, bright rice vinegar. And of course, the heat of chopped jalapeno.
With this flavor profile, your mouth will never be bored! Seriously guys, this one is a keeper. It’s a salad you’ll put on the table all summer long. And the light Asian flavors are such a fun alternative to your typical garden salad (sorry, typical garden salads! I still love ya. Hello there, Chopped Egg, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad! 😍).
Plus, this one’s great even after it’s been chilled for a couple of hours. Maybe even better than it is at room temperature! Am I going to have to make another batch just to compare chilled and room temperature? Yes, yes, I think I am. You know, for science and stuff.
What You’ll Need
For this recipe, I use long English cucumbers, but you can substitute any cucumbers you like. Make sure to peel them if the rind tastes bitter.
- Cucumbers: Thinly slice two long English cucumbers. This is the base of the salad.
- Cilantro: You’ll need ¼ cup of chopped fresh cilantro.
- Jalapeño: Remove the seeds and ribs from a fresh jalapeño pepper, and finely mince 2-3 tablespoons of the green part. Wear gloves for protection. OR just don’t touch your eyes ever again. Been there. 😫
- Green Onions: You’ll need two green onions, thinly sliced.
- Rice Vinegar: To dress the salad, I start with three tablespoons of this light and refreshing vinegar.
- Sesame Oil: Sesame oil gives a delicious nutty taste to the salad.
- Sugar: I like to lightly sweeten my salad dressing with ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar. You could also use honey or syrup, to taste.
- Salt: Add salt to taste. I start with ¼ teaspoon and adjust it in the end, if needed.
- Garnishes: I like to garnish this salad with red pepper flakes, Thai basil, and a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds.
How to Make The Best Sesame Cucumber Salad
I love this summer salad because it’s so versatile. You can serve it with anything from grilled chicken to broiled steak to baked fish. Plus, it’s fast to make! Let’s get to it!
- Combine Veggies: Place the sliced cucumbers in a salad bowl. Add the cilantro, minced jalapeno, and green onions; gently toss to combine.
- Make Dressing: In a separate bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and salt.
- Dress Salad: Pour the dressing over the cucumber mixture and toss to combine. Taste for salt and adjust.
- Garnish & Serve: Top the cucumber salad with pepper flakes, basil, and sesame seeds. Serve.
Tips for Making Sesame Cucumber Salad
When making this fresh and flavorful summer salad, there are a few helpful tips you should keep in mind. Read on for my best advice for working with jalapenos, balancing flavors and more.
- Get Your Gloves: Seriously, friends, I highly recommend wearing food-prep gloves to work with jalapenos. They are quite spicy raw, and you don’t want irritated hands.
- Taste and Taste Again: When it comes to the salad dressing, don’t be afraid to taste it several times along the way. The best dressings and vinaigrettes are balanced, meaning that no one ingredient outshines the others. If you taste it and it’s too sour, add more un-sour things, like oil or sugar. If it’s too salty, add a little bit more of everything except salt.
- Get Creative: As with any recipe, don’t be afraid to change things up a bit! Maybe you want to use bell pepper instead of jalapeno for a less spicy dish? Go for it! Do you want to try apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar? No problem! Feel free to customize the dish to suit your tastes.
As I mentioned earlier, this dish goes well with a lot of different main courses. Here are a few favorites to get your menu-making started!
- Meatballs: Who doesn’t love meatballs? I know they’re a big favorite around here! And these Crock Pot Asian Meatballs are especially delicious over rice, with a crispy, crunchy side of this cucumber salad.
- Chicken Breast: These Juicy Garlic Butter Pan-Fried Chicken Breasts may just be The. Perfect. Chicken. Try them and see! You’ll love them with this light summer salad.
- Salmon: This Maple Teriyaki Salmon with Veggies is a gorgeous dinner on its own, but when paired with a fresh and crisp cucumber salad? It’s a knockout! Plus, it’s super-duper easy to make.
How to Store Extras
- You can store sesame cucumber salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
- Do not freeze it, or the cucumbers will become soft and mushy.
Sesame Cucumber Salad
- 2 long English cucumbers, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 to 3 tablespoons finely minced jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- Salt, to taste (I start with ¼ teaspoon and adjust it in the end)
- Red pepper flakes, for garnish, optional
- Thai basil, for garnish, optional
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, cut the cucumbers into thin slices. Place sliced cucumbers in a salad bowl.
- To the cucumbers, add cilantro, minced jalapeno, and green onions; gently toss to combine.
- In a separate mixing bowl whisk together rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and salt.
- Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and gently toss to combine.
- Taste for salt and adjust.
- Top cucumber salad with pepper flakes, basil, and sesame seeds.
- NET CARBS: 6 g
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.
More Summer Salads To Try
Healthy summer salads are where it’s at! Especially if they’re as tasty and refreshing as the following dishes.