Turkish Smashed Cucumber Salad with Late Summer Berries and Herbs

Just behind our home there is a wild country path that connects the river Ouse to the historic centre of York. Hardly anyone knows about it so nature rules and has created a paradise for city foragers. Right now, we have flowering baby nettles – the old ones were cut down after the heatwave and the recent rain has confused them into new growth – these will go into my ispanak mücver, traditional fritters with wild greens, polenta, spring onions and mint at the gallery this week. We also have mossy boughs of elderberry heavy with plump juicy fruit and blackberries of a rather tart variety which I rather like. I gathered some of the fruit on the way home yesterday to add to this classic Turkish salad which traditionally features fresh mulberries.  It can be eaten as a refreshing mezze dish or you can enjoy it served alongside almost anything from halloumi kebabs and fish to rice and grilled vegetables. Here, somewhat unconventionally, I’ve served it alongside a funky plate of spicy black bean, red pepper and feta quesadillas and a zesty melitzanosalata, a roasted aubergine dip.

Turkish Smashed Cucumber Salad


Half a large cucumber, quartered
400g Turkish yoghurt (you can also use Greek yoghurt)
20g dill, finely chopped
20g mint leaves, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
12 blackberries, lightly crushed
A few springs of ripe elderberries, picked (omit these if you are of a delicate disposition as they can cause nausea for some)
Sumac, for garnishing

How I make it

Place the cucumbers on a large board and, using a rolling pin, smash them into large chunks.

Combine the yoghurt, cucumber, dill, and mint in a bowl. Add a generous glug of olive oil and season to your taste with sea salt.

Lightly crush the blackberries between your fingers and gently stir into the yoghurt mixture to achieve a ripple effect. Then add the picked elderberries.

Garnish with a pinch of sumac.

In the cooler months, you can change this up by substituting the berries with pomegranate arils and chopped pistachio nuts.

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