This strawberry and cucumber salad is here just in time for summer, when strawberries are bursting forth at the farmer’s markets, and cucumbers are falling off their curly vines in backyard gardens.
It is nature’s wisdom that both fruits have a deep, cooling effect on the body, which is just what we need right now to get a bit of relief.
This salad takes just a few minutes to throw together for a refreshing side dish for your lazy summer lunch or dinner. Or take it to a potluck and be a hero.
A bit of freshly chopped mint, a drizzle of oil, zingy citrus juice, and a pinch of seasoning is all this salad needs to be complete.
While strawberry and cucumber are common fruits most of us enjoy (yes, cucumber is a fruit too), do you know they are also loaded with ancient pedigrees and healing properties?
A lot of the medicine is in the skin, so seek out organic strawberries and cucumbers so that you can munch the entire fruit, worry-free.
Read on for the juicy stuff, and feel extra good about making this strawberry and cucumber salad. All you need to do is enjoy every bite of it while it cools you down and heals your body.
History And Health Benefits Of Strawberries
For those of you who love strawberries, you will be happy to know that the heart-shaped strawberry was actually associated with Venus, the goddess of love, in ancient Rome.
All this happened long before strawberries were domesticated in France in the 1750s. So those ancient berries would have been tiny, and even more precious, than the garden variety we have today.
Still, if you are looking to catch that special someone, maybe consider sharing this strawberry and cucumber salad with them. He or she will never know what hit them.
But seriously, let’s talk about food as medicine.
Strawberries taste tart and sweet at the same time, and they are cooling, refreshing, and hydrating.
Their tartness stimulates the appetite by moistening the gastrointestinal tract, while at the same time strengthening the digestive system.
Strawberries can even dislodge stagnant, undigested food, and calm the stomach.
Strawberries also soothe and gently detox the liver, which has a correlation with your eyes.
In fact, eating strawberries is like medicine for your eyes, with one Ayurvedic expert suggesting you may feel your eyes relax, and focus improve, within ten minutes of eating a strawberry.
Cool As A Cucumber For 5,000 Years
Cucumbers have an even older pedigree than strawberries. Try 5,000 years.
These elongated crisp fruits appear in the legend of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk (estimated circa 2800 BC to 2500 BC) and a hero of ancient Mesopotamia.
They also make an appearance in the bible as one of the foods eaten by the Israelites in Egypt.
I wonder if you can describe the taste of cucumber? There is more to it than water right?
In modern times though, cucumbers originated in India at least 3,000 years ago, before spreading to Europe and beyond.
People the world over love cucumbers, but they are often overlooked. I wonder if you can describe the taste of cucumber? There is more to it than water right?
Well … they are 95 percent water, but that 5 percent is loaded with sweet, astringent, and slightly bitter tastes.
You might associate cucumber with a melon, and you would be right. It is in the same family as squash and tomatoes. See it grow on its spiny vine and you’ll know this to be true.
Many people find cucumber skin hard to digest. I know my mom always cut most of it off.
It actually depends on the type of cucumber you have whether peeling is advised or not, because the peel is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, silica, and Vitamin A.
The type you see in my recipe photos are Persian cucumbers, which are seedless and thin skinned. These snappy treats are the perfect size for a salad, and I didn’t have any difficulty eating the skins.
Long English cucumbers, the ones sold with the plastic wrap, are very common in North America, but unfortunately, these cukes have been selected for their thick skins, which preserve well for grocery store sales.
They are seedless though, which is good. So just remove a portion, or all of the skin, before using. And if you’ve got a seedy cucumber, remove the seeds.
The absolute best source for cucumbers is your garden, or the farmer’s market. If they are grown in healthy mineralized soils, you may be shocked at their complex flavors. Do try!
Cucumbers are literally famous for their cooling properties, both externally and internally.
You will also appreciate that they freshen the breath, and have a similar calming and healing affect on the liver and eyes like strawberries.
Cooling Strawberry And Cucumber Salad
Now that we’ve got the health benefits of strawberries and cucumbers out of the way, you may be in a hurry to make this salad.
Let’s chat about the remaining ingredients.
I am suggesting you use avocado or nut oil as a pleasing complement to the subtle flavors of the fruit. Also for added nutrition.
Avocado oil has a ton of health benefits, and it’s gotten popular in recent years. It is clean tasting—slightly nutty and buttery—but it doesn’t exactly taste like an avocado.
And if you do try avocado oil, it may even safe for high heat cooking, up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is even higher than ghee.
However, check the label of the brand you purchase to make sure as brand differ in how they process their oil. This one is safe for high heat cooking, and this one is not.
A nut oil, such as hazelnut, almond, or walnut, will also be nice here, but good extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil will also work. Just consider the flavor and use what you want!
This strawberry and cucumber salad recipe also calls for citrus juice. I definitely recommend squeezing from whole fruits. Citrus lasts a long time in the fridge, so keep some on hand for salads any day of the week.
RECOMMENDED RECIPE: This Cooling Summer Drink Is Loaded With Antioxidants —READ MORE
The addition of the orange and lemon—that touch of acid—helps to elevate and intensify the flavors of the strawberries and cucumbers.
The next ingredient is fresh mint. Hopefully you’ve got some of this prolific spreader in your yard (or a friend’s yard), but if not use some dried mint from your tea bag, or substitute with basil.
Basil has a warming effect on the body, so it isn’t as good for this cooling salad, but it will taste good.
Why Add Heat To Fruit Salad?
The final ingredient I suggest is cayenne pepper if you like it spicy, and paprika if you don’t. Or if you prefer, use black pepper.
Why add hot spice to this strawberry and cucumber salad, you ask?
This is a fair question for North Americans or Europeans.
But it is common practice in hot countries, such as Latin America and India, to add something spicy to fruits.
You might think that these people just like it that way, and that would be true (chilis also grow abundantly in those environments), but the bigger reason is that it just works.
The reason is, according to the Ayurvedic system that I follow to create a blissful effect, the flavors I already mentioned in this strawberry and cucumber salad cover only five of the six main tastes.
These six tastes are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent.
Since we do add salt, without the chili powder or black pepper in this salad, only the pungent flavor would be missing.
So this is the reason we add spice. Getting a balance of all six flavors in a dish will maximize our enjoyment and satisfaction while eating.
I hope you love this salad as much as I do!
Eat it when cucumbers and strawberries are in season to support your health, and also because it is beautiful and tastes yummy.
Cooling Strawberry & Cucumber Salad
- 1/2 English cucumber,
(1/2 pound, or 3 small Persian cucumbers)
- 1 pint strawberries,
(about 10 strawberries, stems removed)
For the dressing
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh mint, minced (see notes)
- pinch cayenne pepper or paprika, (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil, (see notes)
- pinch Himalayan pink salt
- Wash and chop the cucumbers and strawberries and place them in a mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl or glass jar, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing to emulsify.
- Pour the dressing onto the fruit and toss gently. Taste, and adjust the flavors to your liking.
- Serve strawberry and cucumber salad on a plate for the prettiest presentation, or in a shallow bowl. There is a bit of dressing liquid that will be there in addition to the fruit. It is really tasty mixed with other foods on your dinner plate, so just spoon a little up along with the fruit when serving.