Scandinavian cucumber salad

cucumber salad

One item that can be a killer when you're trying to reduce calories, and thereby your circumference, is salad dressing. The problem is that most traditional salad dressings are 60 to 70% oil in weight. But when I look at recipes for salad dressings from the weight-loss brigade sources and see measurements like half a teaspoonful of olive oil, I wonder what planet these people live on. Half a teaspoon of olive oil on a big salad is not going to add any sort of discernable flavor. You might as well go without it.

On the other hand, it is quite difficult for most people to eat raw vegetables with just a squeeze of lemon juice and salt or something. The role of salad dressing is to coat the veggies with a layer of flavor, and to add a certain moistness or lubrication. It seems a bit strange to think that you need to add "moistness" to vegetables, which are almost all water in weight, but the human palate is a strange thing.

So, what I've been looking for is ways to add the "moistness" and flavor coating to a salad without the addition of oil. Or, if I do add oil it is really going to count in terms of flavor.

Cucumbers have a delicious juice, that really gets perked up by a little salt and/or a sour ingredient like vinegar or lemon juice. I've been making this salad, which has a rather Scandinavian sweet-and-sour flavor, for years now, and it gets rave reviews every time because it really has a wonderful fresh, refreshing taste and texture. It has no fat at all, and if you are avoiding sugar all together you can substitute artificial sweetener for the 1 tablespoonful of sugar. Substituting honey for the sugar gives it a subtly differerent flavor too. This salad goes well with just about any kind of meal.

Scandinavian cucumber salad_

  • 1 long English-style cucumber, or the equivalent amount of other seedless or low-free cucumbers (Japanese cucumbers for example)
  • 1 small celery stalk
  • small bunch of parsley
  • Fresh dill
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt

Slice the cucumber thin, but not paper-thin - about 2mm or so in thickness. Put n a bowl.

Chop the celery very finely. Chop the parsley and dill also. (Note: you can really add as much parsley as you want, but you want up to about 1 Tbs. of dill. You can omit the dill too.) Put in the bowl with the cucumbers.

Combine the sugar, vinegar, and salt and pour over the vegetables. Dont worry if the sugar and salt don't completely dissolve - they will eventually. Mix well with your hand, squishing the cucumber a bit to encourage the juices to come out. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Mix again before serving.

Makes 4 side-salad servings, 2 salad-course servings, or 1 large main salad.

  • Fat content: none
  • Sugar content: 1 Tbs.

Variations: Add thinly sliced radish. Add a can of tuna packed in water (the cucumber juice goes very well with tuna).

Comments

absolutely wonderful! this sounds like a very refreshing salad. as my husband and i are following the weight watchers plan, we are constantly looking for light sides. thanks for the recipe! we will enjoy this with tomorrow night's grilled mahi mahi.

ps -- i put the ingredients into ww's recipe builder, and at four servings, it comes out to be 0 points each, for any of your readers who are on the plan.

thanks again!

oooh, I'll try this. In return, here's my favourite and not dissimilar cucumber salad recipe, also without oil :)

Cucumber Carrot Salad

1 garlic clove, minced
juice of one lime
1 tablespoon naam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 heaping teaspoon sugar
1 small minced pickled chile (I use serrano although that's mainly because that's what's easily available here)
1 cucumber, cubed
1 carrot, grated

Mix sauce ingredients well, mix sauce and salad in a bowl, add vermicelli if you need to make it stretch to feed more :).

:)

hi there
the cucumber salad sounds great - will try it tonight! if you're looking for a mayo type substitute for salad, could i suggest 3 tablespoons of light mayo mixed with a 200g tub of fat-free greek yogurt, a good handful of chopped fresh mint and the juice of half a lemon. leave it in the fridge for an hour to develop and it makes a great side with a fraction of the guilt!

On the lighter dressing side: I love to use youghurt. Lowfat youghurt with fresh herbs and what ever spices you like to put in there, and mix a portion in the blender and keep it in the fridge for the next 5-7 days. Goes with just about any salad you like, and makes for a nice sauce with meat.

This is a fat-free dressing that works well on a spinach salad -- a little on the sweet side from the orange juice. Surprisingly good, despite the fact that there's no oil. :)

1/4 cup fresh orange juice (i.e. 1 small orange)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2-3 green onions (chopped)
1 garlic clove
2 tsp. brown sugar

Sorry to butt in with advice on my very first comment here EVER, but if you want to add just a little bit of oil to something, sesame oil is by far my favorite. LOTS of flavor and not too bad for you (I think).

I like your page! Found you via Maggi. :)

Haven't seen any updates in several weeks. Hope you are doing well and look forward to seeing new posts in the new future!

I'm with Meredith. When I use oils in salads, I use those that are strongly flavored. Agrumato, olive oil that's pressed with lemons, is a favorite.

I grew up on a very similar salad, but with a sliced onion and no herbs or oil, just the sugar/salt/water/vinegar. Green pepper goes well, too, if you like. My mom used to boil up the dressing to ensure everythign dissolved but I've learned you can skip that step and it's much easier! I grow cucumbers in the summer just so I can make this at the drop of a hat.

So, what I've been looking for is ways to add the "moistness" and flavor coating to a salad without the addition of oil. Or, if I do add oil it is really going to count in terms of flavor.

Anchovy paste. Simply.

Hi there,
Another tips for reducing amounts of oil in salad dressing (I eat a bowl of salad of some sort almost every night):
- first, use really flavorful oils both in terms of nature and quality (eg expensive ones: they'll last you twice as long as the cheap ones since you won't need to use as much). Some oils are subtle, those won't work. Go for the fruity ones.
- replace half the oil by veggie stock or white wine for example. it does change the dressing texture and taste, but the result is delicious. I make a lot of veggie stock one in a while and freeze it in the form of ice cubes, to be able to use exactly the quantity I need over time.
There is also the classical oil-free asian dressing: water, sugar, shallots and fish sauce, plus any seasonnings you like, but it's not suited to every salad.

Great, refreshing salad for a hot summer lunch--even though I had to do a twist as I didn't have all the things on hand. I put the juice of half a lemon, and added a sprinkle of "Trocomere", an excellent season salt for veggie dishes. I'm not much for most vinaigerette dressings so lemon or lime usually works for me. And I totally didn't miss the oil! A winner.

I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. This recipe sounds great. Cucumbers are a favorite of mine, and I love your ideas about the dressing.

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Yum, this looks like a great summer salad to have on the side or as starter with a BBQ. Really light and oil-free!

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