Herbaceous, a little bit spicy, and incredibly refreshing, this zippy cucumber salsa with my Mediterranean twist comes in handy all summer long! 

A close up of a bowl of cucumber salsa with a spoon.
Photo Credits: Mark Beahm

I love giving a Mediterranean flair to the food I’ve come to adore in Atlanta, from punching up Tomato Salsa with briny Kalamata olives, to my version of game-day Guac with mint and feta. Bringing together flavors from all walks of life can be magic! I’m doing the same today with this Cucumber Salsa recipe.

To make an extra cooling summer salsa, I skip the tomatoes so the cucumbers do all the talking. Pistachios add a Mediterranean vibe and a welcome layer of crunch. And Aleppo pepper adds depth to the spice with its bright, subtly smoky flavor (but you can use standard red pepper flakes if you’d like).

Serve as an easy app or snack with Pita Chips, or use as a dressing for Grilled Salmon or Chicken Breast

Table of Contents
  1. Cucumber Salsa Ingredients and Substitutions 
  2. Ingredient Spotlight
  3. How to Make this Cucumber Salsa Recipe
  4. Ways to Mix it Up
  5. What to Serve with Cucumber Salsa
  6. Mediterranean Salsas, Sauces, and More!
  7. Cooling Cucumber Salsa—Mediterranean-Style Recipe
Ingredients for cucumber salsa including an English cucumber, jalapeno, aleppo pepper, shallots, cilantro, limes, olive oil, salt, and pistachios.

Cucumber Salsa Ingredients and Substitutions 

To me the point of a great summer salsa is to lighten everything it touches with a burst of freshness. And what’s more refreshing than cucumber? You’ll need:

  • English cucumber: The base for this cucumber salsa, replacing the classic tomato for an extra refreshing twist. Look for English cucumbers (or swap in 3-4 Persian cucumbers), which have a more tender skin and sweeter flesh. If all you have is a standard slicing cucumber, peel off the skin entirely as it tends to be bitter.
  • Jalapeños: Add a fair bit of heat, especially if you get a spicy one! Remember you can always adjust to your taste.
  • Red pepper flakes: Add a nice kick, but if you have Aleppo pepper or Urfa Biber you should sub those in. They’ll add a more nuanced flavor with a slight hint of smokiness (we carry both at our spice shop).
  • Shallots: Add a mild onion flavor without overpowering. I find white and yellow onions too dominant here, but you can substitute with green onions or ½ of a red onion if shallots are unavailable. 
  • Cilantro adds a fresh note that’s crucial to a good salsa. I wouldn’t try to swap with dried herbs, but parsley, dill, mint, or a combination would work if you’re not a cilantro person. 
  • Kosher salt enhances the flavor. 
  • Lime juice adds a fresh zing essential to any good salsa recipe. Lemon juice would also work.
  • Extra virgin olive oil marries the salsa’s flavors (see “Ingredient Spotlight” below for tips). 
  • Pistachios are optional, but they lend a nice buttery richness, crunch, and Mediterranean-style twist to the classic salsa. Pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds could also work. 
An overhead photo of cucumber salsa in a bowl with a spoon on a platter with slices of toasted baguette. Next to this is a kitchen towel, a plate of limes and a glass of water.

Ingredient Spotlight

Oil in salsa is a matter of personal preference. Across cultures, some salsas include oil, while others rely on the juice from the fresh tomatoes and citrus. If you’ve been here a while it will come as no surprise to you that I like to use a dash of olive oil in my salsa. 

Not only does a drizzle of olive oil hold the sauce together, it also adds loads of delicious flavor and enriches the salsa with healthy fats. The flavor of the oil is important, as a low-quality oil is often unpleasantly bitter and overpowering. Use a good extra virgin variety with a pleasant flavor. I especially love the peppery robust flavor of our Spanish Hojiblanca with this recipe. 

A close up of a bowl of cucumber salsa with a toasted baguette slice.

How to Make this Cucumber Salsa Recipe

You can vary this recipe to meet your tastes. If you’re worried about the spice level, start with just 1 jalapeño and remove the seeds (which carry most of the heat). Always taste and adjust the salt and lime to your liking. Here are the steps:

  • Stripe the cucumber: Trim the ends off a large English cucumber. Starting at one end, peel off a strip of skin lengthwise. Skip a section and then peel another strip next to the first one, leaving a strip of skin in between. Continue this pattern, peeling and leaving strips, until you have “partially peeled” or “striped” the entire cucumber. (Leaving a small amount of peel gives added texture and flavor to the cucumber without overpowering.)
  • Seed and chop the cucumber. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then use a metal spoon to scrape out and discard the seeds (this prevents the salsa from getting watery). Chop the cucumber into small pieces and add to a medium mixing bowl. 
  • Mix. To the mixing bowl, add 1 to 2 chopped jalapeños, ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, 1 to 2 finely chopped shallots, 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, the juice of 2 limes, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, a big dash of salt, and 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios (optional). Toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.The ingredients for the cucumber salsa in a bowl just before being mixed together.
  • Serve. Use like a condiment for roasted proteins, or transfer to a serving bowl and serve with your favorite chips, pita chips, or toasted baguette slices.An overhead photo of cucumber salsa in a bowl with a spoon on a platter with slices of toasted baguette. Next to this is a kitchen towel, a plate of limes , a juicer and two glasses of water.

Ways to Mix it Up

You can play around with seasonal fruits to add creaminess, brightness, or a tropical twist. Some ideas: 

  • Tomatoes
  • Mangos
  • Avocado
  • Kiwi
Cucumber salsa in a bowl with a spoon on a platter with slices of toasted baguette. Next to this is a kitchen towel, a plate of limes and two glasses of water.

What to Serve with Cucumber Salsa

This cucumber salsa has a knack for fitting in wherever it goes. Serve as a snack with chips—it’s delicious with store-bought or homemade pita chips. It also works well on toasted baguette slices, almost like a “cucumber Bruschetta.” 

Though we don’t really have “salsa” in the Mediterranean, we do treat most any salad like salsa, scooping and spreading it onto proteins and Pita Bread as we enjoy our dinner. I do the same with this recipe.

The smokiness of the grill and salsa have a special connection, so I love to spoon it on top of grilled fish like this Grilled Swordfish or Grilled Chicken Breast. Roasted proteins of your choice would work well too

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5 from 1 vote

Cooling Cucumber Salsa—Mediterranean-Style

Suzy Karadsheh of The Mediterranean Dish. In the kitchenSuzy Karadsheh
An overhead photo of a bowl of cucumber salsa with a spoon.
Easy, extra cooling cucumber salad with a Mediterranean-style twist. Serve with pita chips, on crostini, or as a condiment to grilled fish.
Prep – 10 minutes
Total – 10 minutes
Cuisine:
American/Mediterranean
Serves – 6
Course:
Condiment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large English cucumber
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños, chopped (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes)
  • 1 to 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Stripe the cucumber: Trim the ends off the cucumber. Starting at one end, peel off a strip of skin lengthwise. Skip a section and then peel another strip next to the first one, leaving a strip of skin in between. Continue this pattern, peeling and leaving strips, until you have “partially peeled” or “striped” the entire cucumber.
  • Seed and chop the cucumber. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then use a metal spoon to scrape out and discard the seeds. Chop the cucumber into small pieces and add to a medium mixing bowl.
  • Mix. To the mixing bowl, add the jalapeño, Aleppo pepper, shallot, cilantro, lime juice, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, a big dash of salt, and the pistachios (if using). Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
  • Serve. Use like a condiment for roasted proteins, or transfer to a serving bowl and serve with your favorite chips, pita chips, or toasted baguette slices.

Video

Notes

  • Shop this recipe: Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including the olive oil and Aleppo pepper used in this recipe.
  • For a spicier salsa, leave the seeds on the jalapeños.
  • Look for English cucumbers (or swap in 3-4 Persian cucumbers), which have a more tender skin and sweeter flesh. If all you have is a standard slicing cucumber, peel off the skin entirely as it tends to be bitter.

Nutrition

Calories: 47.2kcalCarbohydrates: 6.6gProtein: 1.7gFat: 2.4gSaturated Fat: 0.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.7gMonounsaturated Fat: 1.2gSodium: 6.3mgPotassium: 182.9mgFiber: 1.7gSugar: 2.1gVitamin A: 331.1IUVitamin C: 11.9mgCalcium: 24.8mgIron: 0.6mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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5 from 1 vote

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Comments

  1. Colleen Vierra says:

    5 stars
    Love your quick, easy and yummy recipes! Thank you for sharing your positive energy, stories and recipies.

    1. TMD Team says:

      You are so sweet, Colleen! Thank you!