1) Cut off the ends of the cucumber. Cut the cucumber in thirds and then cut each third horizontally so you have six long pieces. Cut each piece into one inch chunks. On a cutting board, with the back of a large knife, smash each cucumber chunk. (Careful, they’ll splatter!) Put them all into a large bowl.
2) Make the dressing in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, juice of a lemon (more it you want your lemon isn’t giving off a lot of juice), chili flakes, salt and pepper to the bowl. Whisk it until it is well blended. Taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Put to the side.
3) In a separate bowl, add the raspberries and balsamic vinegar. Gently toss so you don’t break up all the raspberries. (Smashing some is just fine and will only add to the salad’s flavor.) Let this sit for five minutes.
4) It is time to assemble the salad. Mix the lemon dressing again and add to the cucumbers. Toss to coat. Drain the berries and top the cucumber salad with them. Gently toss. Chill for at least 1/2 hour. To finish, sprinkle with flaky salt and zest of lemon. Serve as a side dish to poultry, fish or beef. Enjoy.
NOTES: Right now, smashed cucumber salad is having a moment on social media. This is my version that deviates from the strong Asian flavors that are usually found in the salad. My Smashed Cucumber and Raspberry salad uses the flavors of raspberries and lemon to really lighted up the dish, while the chili flakes give it a nice balance of heat. It is a cool and refreshing salad that I’m sure to be making well into the summer.
It is a simple side dish so you must use the best ingredients. For the cucumber, you definitely want to use a thin-skinned cucumber. I used an English cucumber but smaller persian cucumbers would work too. When smashing them, go lightly at first. The thin skin breaks easily. If you smash too hard, you’ll be wearing the seeds and juice!
Raspberries should be fresh and rinsed right before using. I’m sure you could use frozen berries but they won’t stay whole after you defrost them and marinate them in the balsamic vinegar. They’ll break down and become more like a second dressing. Still delicious, but you won’t have the whole berries in the salad. Make sure you let the berries sit in the balsamic a good five minutes. That lets them soak up that flavor. I do drain the berries so I don’t have too much balsamic on the cucumbers. I like that the berries pop with that taste in every bite.
While you can certainly use plain extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, I used lemon flavored olive oil and raspberry flavored balsamic vinegar for an additional flavor punch. The products are delicious and really stand out in this dish. Fresh lemon juice must be used (do not substitute anything off the shelf) and definitely add the zest.
Flaky salt is optional at the end, but it really elevates the dish. Then, it comes down to the chili flakes. The way I came up with this dish was seeing the Asian inspired smashed cucumber dishes on instagram. There were tons of Asian flavors and lots of chili flakes. I kept the chili flakes in my version and as always, how much you use is up to you. The 1/2 teaspoon was the right amount for me. If you like it really spicy, feel free to add more. Remember to taste and season as you go.
The last note I want to make is that this is best served ice cold. So let the salad sit in the refrigerator a good 1/2 hour to overnight. The flavors just get better.
You can buy the artisanal olive oil and balsamic vinegar at Patricia and Paul.
If you like the flavor combination of lemon and raspberries, try some of my other dishes: