This cucumber salad is very simple, but delicious. It can be found as a side dish on the menu at some diners and restaurants in the Coal Region and in Pennsylvania Dutch country.
Creamy cucumber salad is known to grace tables across many cuisines, including German, where is is known as ” gurkensalat“. In Poland, it is mizeria, which literally translates to “misery.”
Why would anyone associate a delicious dish to “misery”? There appears to be two schools of thought; an Italian queen married to a Polish King brought the cucumber to Poland. She was so homesick for her beloved country, she cried every time she ate cucumber salad. The other theory is that Polish peasants, whose lives were fraught with misery ate this because cucumbers were one of the foods available to them.
A staple side dish
I remember my Mom making this all summer long with cucumbers from our neighbor’s garden. The cukes were so prolific, our neighbor would often bring an entire paper sack of them to us.
I was not a cucumber fan in any way other than made into pickles in my younger years, but I love this salad now. Simple, quick, and delicious; only six ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator and you have a refreshing side dish that compliments a wide variety of meals.
You can use common cucumbers in this salad, but the English/European cucumbers – sometimes referred to as “seedless” – have a much smaller and less watery seed pocket making them my preferred choice for keeping the dressing on this salad from becoming too runny. English/European cucumbers are found in the US in grocery stores usually encased in a plastic wrapping.
Because cucumbers are available in grocery stores year-round, this salad can be enjoyed anytime rather than being relegated to a summer-only dish. It is as much at home on the winter holiday table as at a warm-weather potluck or casual picnic.
Creamed Cucumber SaladCourse: Salads, SidesCuisine: Pa. Dutch, Coal Region, Eastern EuropeanDifficulty: Easy
1 – 12 to 14 inch English/European cucumber (also referred to as “seedless”) or 2 medium common cucumbers.
1 medium sweet onion
Salt and black or white pepper
2 Tablespoons white or cider vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, to taste
sour cream as needed (approximately 1/2 to 1 cup)
fresh or dried dill weed (optional)
- Peel and very thinly slice cucumber and onion. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt, toss, then let stand in a colander 15 to 20 minutes to drain.
- Pat with towel or absorbent paper to take off as much moisture as possible.
- Place cucumbers and onions in bowl, add the vinegar and sugar and mix.
- Toss with enough sour cream to lightly cover the cukes and onion and sprinkle with pepper and fresh or dried dill weed to your taste (dill is optional but recommended).
- Stir and chill before serving to allow flavors to blend.