For me, nothing says “Summer’s here!” quite like a Cucumber and Mint Sandwich. This British classic is deliciously cool and refreshing to eat during hot, sticky weather. I make the sandwich in the traditional manner, with good bread, good butter, English cucumber, and freshly-snipped mint from my garden. Need a chic-and-easy course for your next garden party or Afternoon Tea? This recipe is for you:
Note #1: Use an English cucumber for this sandwich. English cucumbers are long, straight, virtually seedless, and thin skinned. To protect the delicate skin during transit, the cucumber is usually sold shrink-wrapped in plastic. The cucumber has a pleasant crunch and a non-bitter flavor.
Note #2: The best bread for any “tea”-type sandwich is Pain de Mie (French Sandwich Bread — click here for my step-by-step recipe). Alternatively, you can use Pepperidge Farm white bread. It’s texture is somewhat similar to that of pain de mie.
Note #3: Let’s make our sandwich already!
To start, cut off a length of English cucumber that matches the length of the sandwich bread. I cut my cucumber 3 1/2 inches long.
If you are a finicky queen like me, then go ahead and peel the cucumber. Commoners can leave the skin intact. The skin of an English cuke is thin enough for pleasant eating.
Now grab a mandoline…
And, while using the hand guard that came with the mandoline, slice the cucumber lengthwise into thin (approximately 1/16-inch) strips, or “rectangles.”
Why rectangles? Well, speaking from experience, rectangles stay in place while a sandwich is being eaten. Round slices routinely dislodge themselves and land on unsuspecting laps.
Next, run out to the garden…
And fetch a large, leafy sprig of mint.
Pinch off 2 or 3 of the herb’s largest leaves, and tightly roll them, from stem to tip, as if you were rolling a cigar.
Thinly slice the cigar crosswise to make a “chiffonade of mint.”
Then grab 2 slices of bread, and generously spread one side of each slice with softened butter. An offset spatula is helpful here.
Arrange 1 or 2 layers of cucumber on one slice of bread.
Dust the cucumbers with kosher salt and fresh grinds of black pepper…
And finish with a flurry of mint!
Close the sandwich with the remaining bread, and seal it with a firm press of your impeccably clean palm. If the food police are watching, you can seal the sandwich with the help of a flat spatula.
Now cut off the crusts…
And eat them. Waste not, want not.
Cut the sandwich diagonally in half…
And then cut again on the diagonal, to produce 4 triangles.
Repeat the above steps for the remaining cucumber rectangles. You should have enough cucumber and mint left for a second sandwich!
If you are serving your sandwich triangles to tiara-wearing guests at a garden party, you might like to arrange them in some decorative way on a platter. The sandwich triangles, I mean. I can’t advise on the arrangement of guests.
However you present ’em, Cucumber and Mint Sandwiches are as refreshing as a cool breeze. Don’t make me beg you to try them!
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And here, in case you need it, is the printable:
Cucumber and Mint Sandwich
- a mandoline ( for slicing the cucumber)
- 4 thin slices of good quality white bread
- 2 generous tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- A 3 1/2-inch length of English cucumber, peeled and cut lengthwise on a mandoline to create 1/16-inch-thick strips or "rectangles"
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- 3 large mint leaves, chopped
- Generously butter two slices of bread. Top the bread with one or two layers of the cucumber strips. Dust the strips with the salt, pepper, and half of the chopped mint. Close the sandwich with the other buttered slice of bread, and press down gently to seal. Cut off crusts, and then cut the sandwich diagonally two times to produce four sandwich triangles. Repeat the preceding steps with the remaining ingredients.