French Cucumber Salad

March 5, 2019 by Nicole Collins

Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

Who’s ready to stuff their face today?!?

*Raises my hand as far as I can stretch it*

I think most of us know that Mardi Gras translates to Fat Tuesday from French to English. Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday which officially kicks off the season of Lent. Most Christians celebrate the season of Lent by giving up or sacrificing something (like food) to honor the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us during his crucifixion after 40 days travelling in the desert. So on Fat Tuesday, we stuff our faces to hold us over for the next 6 weeks while we “fast”.

In the US, New Orleans is Mardi Gras central thanks to its founding French roots. But, what I didn’t know is that Mardi Gras, or Carnival, was celebrated in some capacity worldwide. Some of the biggest worldwide celebrations can be found in Brazil, Venice, and France, of course. I’ve always wanted to participate in a Mardi Gras celebration. Guess it’s time to book my next Italy trip!

Speaking of booking my next trip, I think the next place on my “to go” list is France. I know next to nothing about French history, architecture, etc. The extent of my French vocabulary is “bonjour, “oui oui”, and “ooo la la”. But, you don’t need to speak French to be able to love French food. And, boy do I love French food. If I’m being truly honest, I really only want to travel to eat. So, it works out!

My friend Alison and I recently had dinner at an INCREDIBLE local French restaurant, and that amazing place will have to be enough to hold me over for now until I book my next international excursion. We were there for restaurant week, so we were able to choose from a prix fixe menu at a fairly decent price. Otherwise, a whole trip to France might actually be more affordable than routine dinners there. But the food was out of this world, so it’s totally worth it.

At this restaurant, I had the most incredible salad I’ve ever tasted. I talked to the waiter about what was in it trying to get as many tips as I could while he told us what a popular menu item it had become. I tested and tested and tested trying to replicate that salad, and I’ve finally gotten a version that I can live with.

So, in honor of that #worthit $12 appetizer salad and all of the other French influences floating around today, we’re getting our French on today.

Today, we’re making French Cucumber Salad!

I still remember the audible gasp I made (like it was years ago and not just weeks ago) when the waiter first set that heavenly salad down in front of me. It was sooooo beautiful. I hope I’m doing it justice today!

We start our cucumber salad, with well…cucumbers! I used an English cucumber, because they’re seedless and not as wet as your standard hothouse cucumber. I would generally leave the skin on the cucumber, but this salad is pretty delicate. So, we’re peeling it off. Then, we slice the cucumber in to fairly thin rounds, and we get it ready for the dressing.

For our salad dressing, we’re using crème fraiche. Crème fraiche is a French cream, very similar to sour cream. But, it has a buttery richness to it that compliments the smooth tanginess. It’s pretty thick, so we’re going to mix some water in to it to help thin it out a little bit and make it perfect for coating our cucumbers. We also mix in a little fresh dill and a pinch of salt for seasoning, then we can toss our cucumbers around until they’re evenly coated in the mix.

The rest of the salad contents get piled right on top of the dressed cucumbers. Alfalfa sprouts, matchstick sliced radish and red onion, and capers each add a special element to this salad. The sprouts are earthy, the radish is spicy, the red onion is tangy, and the capers are nice and salty. Plus, with all of the different textures of each component, this salad really checks off every box. Then to finish, it gets a touch of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Who knew such humble ingredients could become so fancy and elegant? And, so refreshing!

This really is a show stopper salad thanks to of all of the thought put in to the little details. The colors. The textures. The notes from every flavor profile. I can practically place myself in a little French bistro with a hunk of baguette and a slab of butter sitting next to me.

Ahh, that sounds like the dream.

Alright, guys. I hope you eat your faces off today! And, I hope this amazing salad is part of your menu.

Enjoy, and let’s eat!

French Cucumber Salad

Serves: 1 Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup seedless cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 2 tbsp crème fraiche

  • 1 tbsp water

  • 1 tsp fresh dill, chopped

  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 radish, matchstick cut

  • 1 tsp red onion, matchstick cut

  • ¼ cup alfalfa sprouts, loosely packed

  • 1 tsp capers, drained

  • sea salt, to taste

  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add crème fraiche, water, dill, and kosher salt. Stir well to combine. Add in sliced cucumbers. Toss well to coat the cucumbers. Transfer to a serving dish.

  2. When ready to serve, top cucumbers with alfalfa sprouts, radish, onions, and capers. Finish with fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt, to taste. Enjoy!

Recipe notes:

*Creme fraiche is a French cultured cream. In my grocery store, it's found in the cheese section.

*To matchstick cut the radish, thinly slice the radish. Then cut each slice in to thin matchsticks.

*Here's the best way to get to roughly 1 tsp red onion, matchstick cut: cut red onion in half, and peel off one layer. Thinly slice the layer you peeled off in to about 5 strips. Cut those strips in half, and that's the amount you need.

*Use a mandoline slicer to control your cuts and keep your cucumbers and radish thinly sliced uniformly.

*Feel free to use microgreens in places of the sprouts.

*The instruction to season something “to taste” can sometimes be a tricky one. I know, and that's why we taste along the way. Since this is a pretty salad, we shouldn't exactly take it apart just to taste it. So for me, I finished with about 3-4 turns each of the sea salt and pepper grinder. But, you'll get your stride after you make this a zillion times...like you surely will!

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