Mizeria (pron.: ‘me-zerya’) is a refreshing Polish-style cucumber salad, made with thinly sliced cukes and rich sour cream. On occasion, another type of dairy is used – such as soured milk, kefir, yogurt, or buttermilk. In this recipe, we’re using part-sour cream and part-yogurt, to make our Mizeria a bit lighter.
Other popular additions include herbs (dill, parsley, chives, mint), onions, black pepper, as well as lemon juice or vinegar (apple cider or white wine vinegar).
The most common issue with most Mizeria recipes is that the dressing is way too thin. It dribbles off the cucumbers and runs into everything else on the plate. Luckily, after a few tests and attempts, I’ve found an easy solution to this problem.
Following the method below, the dressing will be rich, insanely creamy and it will really cling to the cukes. Just be sure to start preparing Mizeria the day before you plan to serve.
For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.
In Latin, ‘Miseria’ translates to misfortune, poverty, and misery. Hardly a suitable name for a salad…
The authors of the “Old Polish traditions in the kitchen and at the table” (source), had their own theory regarding the origins of the term:
In their view, Mizeria was a cheap meal of poverty-stricken peasants. It was eaten in the summer when the cucumbers were ripe, but the autumn fruits had not yet appeared.
I’ve read somewhere that in the olden days, a cucumber salad was made with milk instead of cream. That way it was cheaper and even more, well – poor. In fact, it was closer to a cucumber ‘chłodnik’ soup than a salad that we know today.
Despite its humble origins, Mizeria is a delicious side dish, definitely worthy of a place at our dinner table.
Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make this Mizeria?
No, all of the ingredients should be available in any well-stocked grocery store.
For a large bowl of Mizeria, you’ll need four large cucumbers. English cucumbers are best here – they’re longer, darker, and skinnier than the typical garden cucumbers.
At some stores, you’ll find them pre-wrapped in plastic and labeled as “hothouse”, “seedless” or “burpless”.
In terms of equipment, you’ll need:
- A large bowl and a medium bowl
- colander/large sieve
- Fine-mesh sieve (large enough to hold 24 ounces, 700 ml)
What should you serve with this Polish Cucumber Salad?
Mizeria goes well with nearly any main course. It can accompany any meat dish of your choice – grilled meats, cutlets, roulades, meatballs… serve them alongside a portion of potatoes (boiled, baked, puréed…).
This cucumber salad will also pair well with fried eggs, together with a glass of cold Soured Milk.
Can you make this Mizeria another way?
Yes, there’s a much quicker way to make Mizeria – but let me explain why it’s worth following this longer method instead:
The problem with most Polish-style Cucumber Salad recipes is that the dressing is too watery and thin. It runs right off the cucumbers and into everything else on the plate (not cool!).
The dressing should really cling to the cukes – and all it takes to make that happen is this simple trick:
- salting and straining the cucumbers, and…
- straining the yogurt
Yes, this process takes a few hours. But in return, we get a delicious, impossibly creamy Mizeria.
In addition, in some of the classic recipes I found, sour cream is replaced completely with kefir, buttermilk, or soured milk. The following are also occasionally added: fresh tomatoes, chives, mint, or fresh parsley.
If you’re not a fan of vinegar, feel free to skip it. A touch of lemon juice instead does wonders though, it’s worth adding instead.
What diets is this Creamy Cucumber Salad suitable for?
This recipe is suitable for vegetarians. It’s also gluten-free, low-carb, and keto-friendly (just skip the sugar).
How long can you keep this Mizeria in the fridge?
Once served, don’t keep it out at room temperature for more than 3 hours.
To store any leftovers, cover the bowl with some cling film, or move the salad into a container with a lid. Chill in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Can I freeze this Cucumber Salad?
Sadly, no – I don’t recommend freezing this recipe. The cucumbers will lose their texture and turn mushy.
- “W staropolskiej kuchni i przy polskim stole” (“Old Polish traditions in the kitchen and at the table” cookbook by Maria Lemnis and Henryk Vitry (the pen name of Tadeusz Żakiej), published in 1979 by Interpress, EAN 8322317123