Crunchy Cucumber Salad is made creamy–yet still healthy–with labneh, and the cukes hold their crunch with a quick drain after they are sliced.
I consider this crunchy, creamy salad one of the greatest in my summer repertoire for three reasons:
- I always have cucumbers, labneh, and herbs.
- A creamy (yet healthy) salad that can be made ahead is a summer buffet must-have.
- Crunch. Cold.
Also: cucumber salad goes with everything, especially grilled meats and vegetables. Often the menu needs just a little something more, and quickly, to round it out, feed the crowd, or add some oomph. Answer is here.
My crunchy cucumber salad is different from laban kiyhar, the classic, ubiquitous Lebanese “salad.” The star here is very much the cucumbers, which are given a little drain treatment to remove some of their water and keep their crunch on. The cukes are cut a little thicker at ¼-inch, and stirred up with a dollop of labneh rather than stirred into a deep bowl of yogurt.
I add a generous shower of mixed herbs, which marry perfectly with that fresh cuke flavor and the cool labneh. In laban kiyhar, I stay with mint only; here I’ll use everything I can: dill, cilantro, mint, basil, chive, tarragon. It’s all going in.
Serve the cucumber salad cold. I make the salad ahead without too much water seeping from cuke to labneh, but I there is always a little water the next day in the chilled salad. No bother (hey, it’s summer; we care not at all): this is nothing a quick stir can’t fix.
Labneh is my creamy-maker of choice over sour cream or mayo. Labneh, or Greek yogurt, has more body, and more complex flavor. If yours is bland or nonfat labneh, stir in a squeeze of lemon juice just before serving.
Crunchy Cucumber Salad
Keep the cucumbers crunchy by draining the slices in advance. This will also prevent too much water from seeping into the creamy labneh dressing; a little of this may still happen, but just give the salad a quick stir before serving, cold. Low-fat or non-fat labneh or Greek yogurt can be used here; add a squeeze of lemon juice to the salad before serving to boost flavor.
- 5 picking cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup whole milk labneh or Greek Yogurt
- 1 cup fresh herbs, such as mint, dill, cilantro, basil, chives, finely chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, cut in small, thin half moons
- Few grinds black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried mint or mint salt
Cut the cucumbers lengthwise, then in 1/4-inch slices. Place them in a colander and sprinkle them with the kosher salt, stirring to coat them well. Drain for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Lay the cucumber slices on paper towels in a single layer, then lay paper towels over top and press to soak up the liquid.
In a medium bowl or serving dish, stir the labneh, chopped herbs, pepper and dried mint. Add the cucumbers and onion, and stir well to coat the cucumbers with the labneh.
Chill for at least one hour and up to one day. Stir before serving, cold.