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I grew up with cucumber salads in Minnesota. Cucumbers grew abundantly in my Mom’s garden (along with tomatoes, zucchini, and melon.) I miss that garden! Mom’s favorite way to serve cucumbers was in a salad with sliced onions, vinegar, and a little salt & pepper. I decide to take that simple salad and zhoosh it up with another of my favorite early-summer ingredients, blackberries. It may sound like an unusual flavor combination, but it’s absolutely delicious. The deep inky sheen and purple highlights of the blackberries against the green cucumbers and white onion create a mouthwatering visual impact. The bits of sweet fresh mint, the earthiness of the pickled blackberries combined with the refreshing coolness of the cucumber slices with the bite of the sweet onion are magically entwined with a homemade blackberry vinaigrette.
This is a two-part recipe. The pickled blackberries and the blackberry vinegar need to be made ahead of time as it takes time for the flavors to fully develop. The berries are infused with fresh basil and peppercorns. The vinegar takes on the hue of the blackberries and their earthy herby flavor.
The salad is super easy to prepare. The first step is thinly slicing the cucumbers and onions. I use a mandolin slicer as it takes just seconds to get evenly sized slices. I’m a big fan of using cukes from the farmer’s market as they remind me of Mom’s garden, but the smaller, seedless English cucumbers are a classy upgrade. Vidalia onions are sweet Georgia onions and an excellent choice for those who don’t appreciate the harsher, more astringent taste of yellow onions. Despite the more intense flavor, I sometimes use red onions because of the added color it brings to salad – but not today.
The fresh mint is torn into small pieces and added to the sliced cucumbers and onions. The flavor brightens the entire dish. This is one of the few times in my recipes where there is no substitute ingredient – sorry! Although I can’t have an outdoor garden, I do have a thriving window box herb garden, so I always have fresh mint on hand. Mint is a very hardy herb and one of the easiest to grow. Be forewarned; if you plant it in a shared container, it will quickly overtake the other plants. It’s almost indestructible.
To make the vinaigrette, combine a bit of olive oil (use one with a robust flavor meant for salad dressings or marinades) and blackberry vinegar with salt and pepper. That’s it. Whisk it up and pour over the cucumber mixture and gently toss, careful not to damage the blackberries.
The salad can be served immediately. I prefer to chill it for an hour or so to let the cucumber absorb the flavors. This will become one of your favorite summer salads! Enjoy!
Cucumber-Onion Salad with Pickled BlackberriesCourse: Salads, SidesCuisine: Low-Carb, Keto-FriendlyDifficulty: Easy
This simple yet elegant salad features the flavors of sweet mint, earthy pickled blackberries, refreshing cucumbers, and pungent onions deliciously entwined with a homemade blackberry vinaigrette.
- Prep: Thinly slice a cucumber and small onion. Tear mint leaves in small pieces. Blackberries and vinegar should be pre-made 2 days in advance.
- Place cucumber and onion slices, mint, and pickled blackberries in a medium bowl.
- Whisk together oil, blackberry vinegar, salt, and pepper; pour over cucumber mixture, and toss gently. If desired, chill in the fridge to allow flavors to deepen.
- Pickled Blackberries: Prepare at least two days in advance. Get recipe.
- Blackberry Vinegar: Prepare at least two days in advance. Bet recipe.
- Cucumber: An English cucumber is recommended, but not necessary. No need to peel the cucumber. A mandolin slicer will cut thin even slices in seconds.
- Onion: A Vidalia onion is recommended, but not required. Cut off ends and discard outer layers. A mandolin slicer will cut thin even slices in seconds.
- Zhoosh: Add minced garlic for a little zing! Add grilled chicken or shrimp for a light meal.