Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cucumber Salad with Fresh Mint, Mustard and Yogurt Dressing

 As I already mentioned in a previous post, French eat a lot of crudités (raw vegetables) for appetizer: shredded carrots, tomatoes, celery roots, red cabbage, radishes, and obviously cucumber. When it comes to dressing, most French families only swear by their own home-made vinaigrette. While I am sure you could find a recipe with exact proportions somewhere, I don't have one to share with you. I just make it "au pif" (by feel?)... and I have been making it "au pif" as long as I can remember! When I was younger and spending time with my paternal grand-parents in Burgundy, I was in charge of the vinaigrette for the crudités. Since we were in the kingdom of Dijon mustard, I had the right to go heavy on the mustard. My grand-parents use to grow fresh estragon (tarragon) and ciboulette (chive) in their garden and I would add a lot to the vinaigrette, ending with what I used to call "la sauce moutarde verte". It was thicker than your traditional vinaigrette, then not a mayonnaise either since I did not put any eggs in it. Just writing about my sauce moutarde verte brings back great memories and makes my mouth water... I think that I'll purchase tarragon on my next trip to the market. Better: I'll grow some on my balcony!
Because my mother wanted us to diversify our diet, once in a while, she'll make a yogurt-based dressing instead of a traditional vinaigrette. As a result, I grew up eating cucumber with yogurt-based dressing; my husband grew up with a cream-based version made by his mother! And evidemment, I have been using yogurt (not so much cream) to season some of our crudités as well. Because plain yogurt is... well plain, I always add a little something to make it more interesting to our palate : Dijon mustard with/without seeds, Tabasco, curry powder, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, fresh basil, fresh chive... and occasionally (because it's so hard to find in the US), fresh chervil (my favorite herb).  My children enjoy all options and as long as I scissor the herbs very fine, they are eating them without complaint. Who knows, soon, they'll be making their own version of my sauce moutarde verte! Bon Appetit!
- 1 cucumber, pealed, seeded and sliced
- 3 TB plain yogurt
- 2 Ts Dijon Mustard (or more to taste)
- A few sprigs of fresh mint, washed, dried and scissored
- Salt, pepper to taste
  • In a bowl, mix plain yogurt, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper
  • Scissor the herbs and reserve
  • Put everything in the fridge (in separate bowls)
  • When ready to eat, assemble and stir gently.
My Personal Comments:
  • If your children don't eat herbs, then you can serve them first and then add the herbs to the remaining dressing.
  • It's a great salad for Spring and Summer time.
  • The dressing won't keep for long, especially after you put the herbs in.
  • This dressing tastes better when cold.


  1. yum. love yogurt dressing. never mixed it with mustard! i know what our veggie side will be for picnic supper on friday! thank you for adding "au pif" to my vocabulary :)

  2. this sounds delicious! yogurt as a dressing base is such a great alternative to oil/mayo. i'm dying to try chervil. it is definitely hard to find in the midwest, too.