I used to beg for creamy cucumber salad — but this version's even better

You'll be eating Sheela Prakash's cucumber salad all summer long

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published June 18, 2023 1:30PM (EDT)

Creamy cucumber salad (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Creamy cucumber salad (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

I may be a happily cliched rom-com loving, yoga-doing Wine Mom, but I refuse to be typecast as a salad person. 

It's not that I have any strong objections to a big bowl of cold, crisp, frequently green things. I just, a bit like Ron Swanson, frequently find myself skeptical that I'm going to get enough to eat. A good salad to me likely has Fritos in it. Or at least bacon. I knew I was in the right place when, in a restaurant deep in the Midwest, I once ordered a salad and the waitress asked if I'd like a pork chop on it. 

So I can confess that when I first looked at author Sheila Prakash's "Salad Seasons: Vegetable-Forward Dishes All Year," I wasn't entirely sure I'd be on board. But when I saw in her introduction a declaration that "Many of the salads in this book are unconventional," because "to me, a salad isn't strictly lettuce-centric," I felt myself relax. Sure, there are recipes within for "simple summer greens," but there are also dishes featuring plenty of grains, beans, cheese and even a little meat here and there. It's a book that won't let you go hungry. And yet, the recipe that wound up winning me over first turned out to a relatively light one.

I spent the first 15 years of my life living with my grandmother, a woman who dutifully if joylessly prepared all the  meals. This is why, whenever anyone asks me about favorite family dishes, I usually draw a blank and ask if Pepperidge Farm cookies count as a response. A notable exception, however, was what my grandmother referred to with unembellished frankness as her "cucumbers and sour cream." It was a dish I begged for all summer long, the way other kids plead for ice cream. It was just thin rounds of cucumbers,  mixed with sour cream and mayo and so generously salted the crystals would provide their own extra crunch. It was my favorite homemade dish in the world, tangy, comforting and refreshing.

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Prakash zhushes up my grandmother's template by taking out the mayo and adding lots of fresh herbs and quick pickled red onions. For my own version, I stick mostly to the plan but substitute green onions for an extra verdant vibe. I also up the quantity of sour cream a bit because I want to know my cucumbers are going to be extra creamy, and I feel like Nana would have wanted it that way. I had a big portion of this for lunch the other day with some warmed up flatbread, and wondered why I haven't been making this for myself my entire adult life. I won't make that mistake again. As-is, this is a perfect summer classic — but if you want to throw a pork chop on it, I won't stop you.

* * *

Inspired by  "Salad Seasons: Vegetable Forward Dishes All Year" by Sheela Prakash

Creamy, crunchy, herby cucumber salad
 2-4 servings
Prep Time
 10 minutes 
Marinating Time
 30 minutes


  • 2 medium or 1 large English cucumber, or 5-6 small Persians
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • Juice of 1 medium lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white sugar
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1/3 cup of sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of cleaned, dried and freshly chopped herbs, such as dill, basil, mint and parsley


  1. Rinse and thinly slice the cucumbers. There's no need to peel.

  2. Put the cucumbers in a colander over a bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and toss. Leave for about 30 minutes to draw out excess liquid from the cucumber.

  3. Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the green onion, lime juice, sugar, and a few pinches of salt and pepper to quickly pickle.

  4. With a paper towel, pat the cucumber to soak up extra moisture. 

  5. Add the cucumbers, sour cream and olive oil to a salad bowl and mix. Taste to see if you need more salt and pepper. Stir in the herbs and enjoy immediately.

Cook's Notes

This dish would not suffer for the addition of some crumbled blue cheese in there.

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By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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