The 1-Ingredient Upgrade for Better Cucumber Salads (It's Already in Your Pantry)

Have your friends and family guessing what your secret ingredient is.

<p>Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek</p>

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

It's a story as old as time. You get invited to a barbecue or summer get-together and are asked to bring a salad. The sizzling temperatures call for something cooling, so cucumber salad sounds like a no-brainer.

You carefully slice your cucumbers, season them well, and set the salad in the fridge until the party starts. When it comes time to serve your refreshing salad, you realize it is a soggy mess that tastes mostly of water. This leaves you feeling anything but cool as a cucumber.

Sound familiar? It happens to the best of us.

While cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables, especially in the warmer months, I've always struggled with making a tasty cucumber salad. Sometimes, the simplest recipes can be the most difficult to perfect! My biggest issue with cucumber salad has always been the flavor. No matter how delicious it tastes while I'm assembling it, as it sits, it always seems to go flat.

I often miss the zip you get from biting into a crunchy pickle, so I try adding dill, more vinegar, and more salt, but they aren't cutting it. Turns out, all I needed was to peek at the back of my favorite pickle jar for inspiration. The one ingredient my salad needed was already sitting in my spice drawer: coriander seeds.

Elise Bauer
Elise Bauer

Whether you are making a creamy cucumber salad or a vinegar-based one, adding toasted and cracked coriander seeds provides a lovely pickle-adjacent flavor. Toasting the seeds in advance brings out their deep earthiness and gives your salad a hint of bright citrus flavor that isn’t dulled by the vegetable's inherent water content. Cracking the seeds adds a nice textural aspect, but you could use ground coriander seeds in a pinch.

A Smart Tip for Making Cucumber Salad

As for the cucumbers themselves, I’ve learned through trial and error that you must pre-salt them to preserve their crunch. I like to layer my sliced cucumber in a colander with kosher salt and ice, then weigh the whole thing down with a few heavy cans.

The salt draws out excess moisture, and the ice encourages the cucumbers to become super crisp. Let this sit for about 15 minutes before proceeding with your desired recipe. Just be sure not to skip the coriander; it will have party guests requesting your secret ingredient salad for years to come!

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.