Cucumber Salad with Yogurt, Raisins, Walnuts and Mint

Cucumber and yogurt salad is part of the repertoire in every yogurt-eating country, but for me the star recipe is this one. I love the burst of sweetness from the raisins, the crunch of walnuts, the coolness of mint. The salad complements grilled lamb, or you could serve it as part of a meze assortment with flatbread. I like to use the crisp, thin-skinned, nearly seedless Persian cucumbers—also called Mediterranean cucumbers—that are about six inches long. Najmieh Batmanglij, the author of several Persian cookbooks that I admire, garnishes her version of this salad with dried rose petals. If you have unsprayed rose petals in the garden, they would make a pretty garnish, too. Break into smaller pieces and scatter on top.

I like this salad to have a thicker, creamier texture than I can get from plain yogurt alone, so I add a little drained or Greek yogurt for extra body.   From Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner by Janet Fletcher (Ten Speed Press).

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 cup plain drained yogurt (see Note below) or Greek yogurt (not nonfat)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh mint
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 cups Persian or English hothouse cucumber, in ¼-inch dice (no need to peel)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Put the raisins in a small bowl, add water to barely cover, and let plump for at least 1 hour. Drain.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurts, garlic, dill, mint, and salt to taste. Add the raisins, cucumbers, and walnuts. Stir well, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately, garnished with more chopped dill; or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour. If you want to hold the salad longer, leave the walnuts out initially and add them just before serving to preserve their crunch.

Note: To make drained yogurt, scoop yogurt into a sieve or colander lined with a triple thickness of dampened cheesecloth. Set over a bowl to collect the whey. Cover with a plate or cloth to protect the yogurt (you’re not pressing it) and refrigerate until it has the consistency of Greek yogurt, 1 to 2 hours.

Serves 4 to 6