If you’ve got Polish roots and have even the smallest plot of land, you are likely to be growing cucumbers in the summertime. And lots of dill. This summer, once our plot of cucumber vines started producing fruit, nearly each dinner at our house has included a Polish cucumber salad, called “mizeria.” Oddly enough, the name does not translate to mean cucumber. Instead, it means misery! How and why–I have no idea. But I do know that the salad is far from miserable. The salad is typically composed of thinly sliced cucumbers that have been salted and then mixed with sour cream, lemon juice or vinegar, and chopped dill. If we have an overabundance of cucumbers, which is always our hope, then we not only look forward to making mizeria every evening for dinner, but we also roll up our sleeves and do some pickling. It then becomes cucumber heaven through the fall and winter months.
Below is the recipe. Join me afterwards for step-by-step instructions that include photos.
I used about 2 medium-large cucumbers out of the three I had on hand for this batch of salad.
Wash, peel, and thinly slice the cucumbers. To slice evenly and thinly, I used one of those box graters that has one side with slicing blades.
With a salt shaker, generously salt the cucumber slices while mixing or tossing the cucumber slices with your hand.
Press a saucer onto the slices and let the bowl of cucumbers sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
Then press the plate against the slices and pour off the juices. Some say that pouring away the juices means pouring away nutrients. Others say that pouring off the juices helps with bloating. If you’d like to keep all the juices, then prepare all the steps of the salad at once without waiting for the juices to be released. The cucumbers will also be crisper that way.
Chop up a few sprigs of dill.
You should have a heaping tablespoon of dill–at least. A lot of dill is a good thing for this salad.
Add some sugar to the bowl, about a scant tablespoon. If you are worried about added sugar, then it’s fine to leave it out.
Add about a tablespoon of lemon juice (or vinegar).
Add 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of sour cream, and sprinkle some pepper over the salad if you like. If you are a fan of onions in your salads, add about 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion to the bowl too. In the salad I’m making here, I left onions out. [I’m not a fan of raw onions in salads!]
Mix it all together.
Taste the salad to see if something should be added, such as a little more lemon juice to balance out the taste better, or a little more pepper if you like a little spice. Or a little more dill, of course!
Transfer the salad to a smaller serving bowl or serve the salad right out of the same bowl. I find that the salad tastes best served right away.
Beware–it can get a bit soupy. But that quality is perfect when served with grilled beef or chicken and a side dish of buckwheat groats or boiled potatoes (sprinkled with dill).