When I go home for the holidays, my God Mom takes special requests for one or two dishes every year. And every year, I request gurkensalat, or creamy cucumber salad.
My God Mom is a German vegetarian who has introduced me to many new foods since she came into my life. Both she and Oma, her mother, are beasts in the kitchen and make the best foods for us during the holidays. Often, God Mom will make German foods. My love for more quality and fresh ingredients came from our trips to Publix shopping in the produce and dairy section. I didn’t grow up shopping on the outside grocery aisles. I had no idea people bought bread that wasn’t pre-sliced. I didn’t have a clue what organic meant and I had no idea of the value of it. Thankfully, I was always curious about food and willing to try anything. So, when I was introduced to dishes during my first holiday with my God Mom and sister, I didn’t hesitate.
The reason gurkensalat became one of my favorites wasn’t just that it was tangy and creamy and light; perfect for a Florida Christmas. It was because eating sliced cucumbers reminded me of my Grandpa. He would slice them really thin with the skin on, add salt and pepper, let them sit for at least an hour in the fridge and eat them like chips. I’d be standing at his elbow as he dressed the cucumber and he’d hand me a few slices at a time. When it was ready, he would call me and ask if I wanted some “coo-cum-bajh” in his Jamaican accent. The answer was always yes.
I put my own spin on gurkensalat because I can’t make it like God Mom can. I added sliced radishes instead of onions like some recipes allow. I like the color contrast but needed to let this set longer than usual. I didn’t want the onion to overpower the dill. Radishes were the perfect addition because the flavor is crisp and subtle and it adds texture along with the cucumber skin. Some recipes say to peel the cucumbers but I like the skin on. More nutrients and more crunch.
One thing that is crucial to the success of this recipe is the resting periods: first after you salt the fresh sliced cucumbers and second after you mix the cucumbers with the dressing. The salt draws out excess water, and resting in the dressing intensifies the flavors.
Most recipes call for English cucumbers to be used but regular cucumbers and min cucumbers work fine. I’ve used them all. This recipe uses mini cucumbers as a “last chance meal.” You’re going to love this perfect summer salad.
- 5 mini cucumbers (or one large regular/English cucumber)
- 4-5 radishes
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp fresh dill
- 2 tbsp dried dill
- 1 tbsp salt
- cracked black pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp mustard
- 1 tbsp monk fruit sweetener (optional)
- Slice cucumbers and radishes carefully with a mandolin into a bowl.
- Sprinkle salt on them, stir, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Strain cucumbers and squeeze out excess water using a cloth.
- Add sour cream, heavy cream, vinegar, fresh and dried dill, black pepper, mustard to cucumber and radishes and mix well.
- Add sweetener (optional.)
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. This allows the flavors to brighten and more liquid to be pulled out to make the dressing creamy.
- Remove from the fridge, stir, garnish with fresh dill and serve.