Home Cooking: Vegetable Side Salads x3

Wilted cucumbers (photo credit: almanac.com)

Because of my lettuce intolerance, other than bland (but cool and crunchy) iceberg lettuce, and an occasional spinach salad, I cannot eat a green salad. No romaine, no bib, no mache, no endive, no other leaf lettuces can pass my lips without unpleasant results. The rest of my family enjoys salads though, so we have grown lettuce in the past and I have made lots of tossed salads for them, but I have always had to avoid them. My parents never got it when I was young, that my avoidance of salads was more than not liking the taste of lettuce, that lettuces other than iceberg actually made me sick, so I was often stuck at the table until I “finished my (romaine or other variety) salad.” What that meant was that I became very good at hiding salad in my clothes or napkin, or at passing it over to my sister or a brother.

I’ve always loved vegetables though, so was always happy when there was something other than a green salad being served. When I began cooking for my own family, I often made vegetable side salads so I could enjoy them right along with the rest of the family (who also all like vegetables). We still enjoy these salads frequently, but especially in the summer.

The wilted cucumber salad comes from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest. It is easy, versatile and inexpensive, and the cucumber slices are a nice addition to a variety of sandwiches as well as being enjoyed on their own. I always make a big jar of this to take camping as they kept well (but usually were eaten fairly quickly). The three bean salad is an old standby from years ago (I can’t remember where I got my recipe), and again is inexpensive and easy to make. I often look for cans of beans on sale when I go to the market to have them on hand, and the type of beans used in the salad can be varied depending on what you have in your pantry. The cauliflower salad recipe comes from my grandmother, who lived on a farm and cooked with what came out of her garden. I never really enjoyed this salad all that much when I was young, but when I found the recipe one day in my mom’s recipe file I figured out why: Mom always made it with Miracle Whip, which I didn’t (and still don’t) care for, instead of the sour cream the recipe calls for. With sour cream, it is cool, crunchy and completely yummy.


Make at least a day ahead so that the cucumbers can fully “relax” and absorb the marinade. When the marinade is first poured over the cucumbers it won’t seem like you made enough, but as the cucumbers wilt, the marinade will fully cover them. These can keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, although they never seem to last more than a few days at our house.

2/3 cup apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar works well too)

1/3 cup water

4 TBSP sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

4 medium cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced

black pepper to taste

2 TBSP minced fresh dill (optional)

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan; heat just to the boiling point, then remove from heat. Layer the onion and cucumber slices in a medium-large bowl, and pour the hot liquid over them. Cool to room temperature, then add pepper and dill (if using). Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and chill until cold.

Classic three-bean salad can easily accommodate four beans if you prefer! (photo credit: food.com)


The canned beans listed below are for the “classic” salad, but can be varied, although there should always be either a green bean or yellow (wax) bean. I have used garbanzos, white beans, and others, depending on what’s on hand in the pantry.

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup sugar (or less, to taste)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 can each, well-drained:

  • wax beans
  • green beans
  • kidney beans

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/3 cup finely chopped green pepper (optional)

Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper; stir until sugar is dissolved. Place beans, onions and pepper in a large bowl, and toss with the dressing. marinate for at least 8 hours before serving. Can be eaten cold or at room temperature.


3 cups finely chopped raw cauliflower

1 cup seeded and diced fresh tomato

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

2 tsp cider or rice vinegar

1/3 cup sour cream

salt & pepper to taste

Mix together the vinegar, sour cream and salt and pepper. Combine cauliflower, tomato and celery in a bowl; toss with sour cream mixture and chill well before serving.


12 thoughts on “Home Cooking: Vegetable Side Salads x3

  1. I’ll definitely try your cucumber salad. Thanks.
    We are still social distancing but hopefully someday soon I can have you over for a meal.
    Call me if you ever have a few minutes to talk! 808 346-4171


    1. The wilted cucumbers are delicious – I recommend looking for fatter cucumbers though. The skinny Japanese ones they sell at the farmers’ market work, but the bigger ones work better for some reason.

      I will try and give you a call soon! We’re staying isolated and distanced as well, but it would still be fun to chat.


    1. Bigger is better when it comes to cucumbers for this wilted cucumber salad. I sure wish the girls were here to help us eat them – I would love to have them but it would take Brett and I quite a while to get through a jar these days. They’re really good on/in sandwiches as well as having on the side.


  2. The irony, of course, is that there is very little nutritional value in most lettuces, with the exception of the dark greens like spinach and kale. They are just the vessel to contain the actually nutritious stuff, so all that wasted effort by your parents was rather pointless. I think it was that whole generation, because even if it was an awful, processed TV dinner, we had the same dictate to clean our plates ‘or else.’ Honestly, in some cases it teetered on the edge of being child abuse. So strange, and so glad we are past it.

    I have a BLT salad, and a Greek salad on my menu this week. Both could be easily amended to swap out the Romaine lettuce called for with either shaved Brussels sprouts or shaved broccoli. Yeah for the many options we now have in our supermarkets that our parents did not!


    1. True story about the clean plate club which my parents enforced: My father told me one night to clean my plate because children in China were starving; I said that even if I cleaned my plate they would still be starving. I was sent from the table.

      I agree about lettuce, although iceberg, which got a bad rap for many years as being bland and totally lacking in nutrition actually has turned out to have some nutritional value after all (not a lot, but it’s no longer considered to be of no value). I was made to feel badly for many years because of what others saw as my plebeian taste iceberg.

      I love all the stuff that can be added to to make interesting and nutritional salads. Cobb salad is a favorite of mine so a BLT salad sounds divine. So does a Greek salad as long as olives are not included on my serving (olives are one of the only foods I truly dislike). Trader Joe’s salad section is a revelation – they offer so many interesting bases for salads (although I’m not a fan of raw kale either).


  3. These look yummy. I used to make batches of bread and butter pickles with my mom and loved them on everything. But we smelled like vinegar for a week afterward, and I’m too lazy to take it on right now. These cukes look like a great sub for them. I’ll definitely try them and 3 Bean is one of my favorites. The last one looks interesting, too. Thanks for sharing recipes!


    1. I think these cucumbers are a little different from bread and butter – my mom canned those as well and I never really liked them all that much, but adore the tase of these. Dill can be added before the hot liquid is poured over for more of a dill pickle vibe.

      I love the cauliflower salad, but cauliflower is hard to find here (and expensive). A few farmers have been able to grow it here but the season is VERY short.


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