Question: why do main dishes get all the glory? The burgers at the backyard barbecue, the beautiful pot roast on a Sunday night dinner, the turkey on Thanksgiving; they all get far too much attention, if you ask me. But let's talk about side dishes for a hot sec.
Burgers would be nothing without a healthy portion of baked beans, potato salad and/or buttery corn on the cob. Your pot roast doesn't stand a chance without some gorgeous roasted root vegetables at the dinner table. And Thanksgiving? I don't have to tell you twice that mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole and roasted Brussels sprouts can practically stand on their own without the turkey. Turkey Shmurkey, it's all about the sides, baby!
So I'm here to declare my love for the very underrappreciated side dish, for clearly it's side dishes that can truly make or break a meal. A few of my favorite side dishes include the utterly decadent potatoes au gratin with white cheddar and tarragon, lemon and basil confetti corn for summer time and rustic ratatouille for a cozy night in. But a side dish I'm newly obsessed with that deserves equally as much love is my sweet and sour dill cucumber salad.
Before I begin, I have to credit my new next door neighbor (slash former work wife slash drinking buddy slash future dog godmother), Leslie for bringing this insanely delicious cucumber salad into my life. It forever will remind me of sunny summer days when it's far too hot to cook and we're grilling up delicious meats for dinner. Along with a few tasty, crisp 22 oz beers and her cute pup, Sterling, Leslie almost always shows up with this sweet and sour dill cucumber salad. It only took me a few years to ask her for the recipe and promptly inform her that I would be featuring it on ze ol' blog. Sneaky sneaky, I am!
Once you taste this salad, it's easy to see why it's such a hit. It's a salad that hits every note and then some; it's sweet, salty, sour and spicy, what?! Can you actually do that in one dish? It'll absolutely give you new meaning to the expression "cool as a cucumber" because it's cool, light and refreshing as can be. Loaded with gobs of savory dill for that classic pickle-like flavor profile, it can easily accentuate any main dish with its simple, clean flavors.
So when you feel like taking the attention away from another rack of ribs (yawn) or grilled chicken (been there done that), give the underdog, the humble side dish a run for its money. This sweet and sour dill cucumber salad is evidence enough that sides are the real star of the show.
Sweet and Sour Dill Cucumber Salad
- 2 English cucumbers, thinly sliced (leave skin on)
- 1 tablespoon Kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, but highly recommended)
Put cucumbers in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Mix it around a bit with your fingers to distribute the salt evenly among the cucumbers. Let sit and release water in the colander for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine vinegar, sugar, pepper, red pepper flakes and dill in a large bowl. After 15 minutes, pat cucumbers dry with a paper towel. Add to bowl with vinegar mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour if not longer – it gets better over time! Serve cold.