Smashed Cucumbers With Feta & Dill Pickle Dressing

My interest in dill pickle dressing is thanks to a small plate at Birdie G's that I've enjoyed more times than I can count. The feta gradually incorporates into the dill pickle dressing and then the pickled onions and crisp cucumbers luxuriate in the creamy mixture. It's a perfect summer side.

Dill pickles are in Chef Jeremy Fox's cookbook, On Vegetables, so that was the first order of business. I made the pickles, waited several days, and then dialed in the dressing's flavor. I also tried substituting the brine from Gjelina's Spicy Sweet Pickles and thought both versions were excellent. There's flexibility in terms of either making your own pickles or using what you have from the grocery store. The key is that the pickle liquid is dilly and delicious with solid acidity.

I've made this salad every Saturday for several weeks now and expect that trend to continue until Persian cucumbers bid farewell for the season.

Recipe Tips

Time to Chill

The dill pickle dressing is thin and doesn't cling like a traditional vinaigrette. The 30 minutes of marinating is important since it gives the cucumbers some time to take up the flavor of the dressing before serving.

Pizza's Wingman

I've paired this salad with Sourdough Sicilian Pizza (recipe coming soon) for the last several weeks and it's an outstanding marriage of flavors. The dill pickle dressing and feta also go really well with Zinfandel and Grenache wine blends.

Stray Seeds

If you use the brine from Gjelina's Spicy Sweet Pickles, don't incorporate any of the coriander seeds into the dressing. I made that error one weekend and found the seeds to be distracting from a flavor and texture standpoint.

Useless Facts

I was curious about capitalizing wine varietals and found this article. It turns out that a varietal is actually a cultivar so "Grenache" is part of the grape's botanical name. Then I found this article which almost had me sold on no caps until the exceptions section at the bottom. For the sake of simplicity, I'm lifting my glass to the wine industry and using caps.

Farmers | Artisans

I make an effort to source my food from California artisans with a special focus on the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Below is a list of the folks who contributed to this dish.

Persian Cucumbers at Beylik Farms - Santa Monica Farmers Market


    • Mini Measuring Cup - I’ve purchased five of these little guys for home and the Airstream. They’re handy for everything from dressings to Scratch Margaritas.
    • Small Prep Cutting Board - I own a couple of these boards. They're great for small jobs and fit neatly into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.

    Ingredients (Serves 2-4)


    • 9 tablespoons dill pickle brine Note: I've used the brine from Gjelina's Spicy Sweet Pickles and also Chef Jeremy Fox's dill pickles. As mentioned in the intro, your favorite store-bought dill pickles are also a possibility.
    • 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, adjust up as needed
    • 1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh dill
    • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic, adjust to taste
    • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • Diamond kosher salt Note: Dill pickle brine varies widely in terms of sodium so taste as you go - more notes below.
    • 1/2 cup Pickled Onions & Garlic Note: The ideal version of this dish includes a little bit of onion with each bite.
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


    • 1 1/4 pounds (about 5) Persian cucumbers
    • 2 ounces (55 grams) Meredith Dairy Marinated Sheep & Goat Cheese or your favorite feta



    • Combine everything but the olive oil.
    • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking as you go. As mentioned under Recipe Tips, this isn't a traditional vinaigrette so you won't get the texture or emulsification you may be used to with those kinds of dressings.
    • Cover and set aside.


    • Trim and discard the ends off of the cucumbers then slice each cucumber lengthwise then widthwise. You will end up with 4 pieces for each cucumber.
    • Take one piece and place it on the cutting board cut-side down. Rest the flat side of a chef's knife on the cucumber and give the knife a whack. This will "smash" and slightly split the cucumber - you're not looking to destroy the vegetable.
    • With the sharp edge of the knife, gently kick away the seeds that have come loose. The idea is not to remove all of the seeds - just a small portion will end up being discarded. Cut the smashed cucumber into two bite-size pieces and transfer to a bowl.
    • Repeat with the rest of the cucumbers.
    • Toss the smashed cucumbers with 4 tablespoons of dressing (use just the liquid and leave the onions and garlic). Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, tossing once or twice to redistribute the dressing.
    • Cover the reserved dressing and put in the refrigerator.

    Plate & Serve

    • Remove the bowl of cucumbers as well as the reserved dressing from the refrigerator.
    • Transfer the cucumbers to a new bowl leaving the watery dressing behind (or just drain off and discard the watery dressing).
    • Toss the cucumbers with 3 tablespoons of fresh dressing and adjust the salt, pepper, and lemon as needed. I usually add a touch more salt and lemon.
    • Arrange in a shallow bowl or similar serving dish then distribute the onions over top. Add more dressing as you see fit - this recipe makes a bit more than you will need.
    • Top with feta chunks and a little more pepper. Serve promptly.

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