Simple Marinated Cucumbers aka Cucumbers and Vinegar
These marinated cucumbers are BY FAR the most-often made side dish in our house. Who knew that cucumbers and vinegar could be such a magical combination. They’re fast and easy for a weeknight side dish or a light summer salad and everyone loves them!
Would you be surprised if I told you I had eight different kinds of vinegar in my cupboard? Before I lived in Europe, my experience with vinegar was limited to dying Easter eggs. And that’s exactly what I thought about when I smelled the simple oil and white vinegar dressing on the salads I ate in Austria.
I tried to suppress my egg-dying thoughts, not wanting to offend my sweet elderly hostesses by scrunching my nose. Then I grew to love vinegar’s bite. Kind of like how I grew to love plain sparkling water. And this simple marinated cucumber salad recipe.
Why Vinegar Makes Everything Better
When I started spreading my little culinary wings, I discovered how necessary vinegar is!
Have you ever made something, tasted it, and thought it was sort of “meh”? So you put some salt on it, which improved the flavor some, but it was still lacking? Chances are it needed some acid.
Acid helps to brighten flavors. Vinegar is an acid.
(Citrus juice is also acidic and does the same thing, but we’re talking vinegar right now.)
Try it. And then come tell me how awesome it was. And then I’ll jump up and down and squeal with you.
I did this during Thanksgiving one year and added a splash of apple cider vinegar to the gravy. My mom thought I had lost my mind, but was totally surprised to see that it was cured of it’s “meh”-ness. It’s also a good way to enhance flavor instead of using salt.
If you’ve discovered the miracle that is vinegar, have you ever tinkered with specialty vinegars? A dear friend of mine (who knows me very well) once gave me a bottle of fig balsamic vinegar. I swear I could drink it straight it’s so good. I ration that stuff. If you’ve ever wondered where to buy vinegar (like the fig balsamic stuff), there are lots of great online sources.
I think marinated cucumbers helped me to love vinegar. It’s a popular side dish in Austria (and Germany, too, I think).
To make this extra good you’ll need extra thinly sliced cucumbers. And make sure you have a fresh cucumber, too. (No mushy spots.) I like using English cucumbers because the skin is so thin and mild you don’t even need to peel them.
Have you bought a mandoline slicer yet? Seriously, what are you waiting for? That one I linked to is similar to the one I have. Mine’s old and doesn’t exist anymore, but it still does a great job. I use it for these cucumbers ALL the time and for making veggie chips, like Crispy Sweet Potato Chips.
Seeing all those super-thin uniform cuts makes me super happy. Unless I cut myself… which I’ve only done once this month. And it wasn’t that bad. I was still happy about the uniformity, despite the blood spewing from my finger. #priorities
These cukes are basically going to soak in vinegar water that is seasoned a bit. I like my cukes marinated in a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water with some sugar and a little sweetener added. You can adjust it however you like. You could even add herbs like fresh dill. Or some minced fresh garlic or thinly sliced red onions if you’re feeling fancy.
Then cover and refrigerate — the longer it sits, the better it gets. Until it gets slimy. Don’t wait that long. They’re really good on day 2 and 3 especially.
I also wanted to mention that I usually avoid white sugar like the plague when preparing our everyday meals and snacks. Most of the time I use coconut sugar when I make these. Honey doesn’t easily mix evenly, and my stevia is super-concentrated. I didn’t want it tasting like cucumber candy.
This easy (gluten free!) side dish adds some freshness if you’re eating something that’s really meaty or heavy. They also belong underneath a couple of fried eggs for lunch. Or with shrimp and pico de gallo.
I’ve made it for my kids a few times and they eat them like potato chips. (Especially the one who really likes pickles.) We especially love these cucumbers with our Sunday California Roll Sushi Bowls.
We’re just cucumber salad & vinegar loving people.