• Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

    Featured Item—Cucumbers

    There is something irresistible about the cool crunch of cucumber.  Thus it is not surprising that cucumbers can be found in most major international cuisines. They are related to other members of the Gourd family, including melons and squash.  Because they are comprised of about 95% water, they are quite refreshing and filling, even though they contain very little calories and virtually no fat. However, they are also a very good source of vitamin C, Vitamin K, and potassium.  They also contain significant amounts of magnesium. The skin adds added fiber.

    There are two general types of cucumbers found in the U.S.  They are referred to as “slicing” and “pickling” cucumbers.  Slicing cucumbers are darker green, more uniform in color, and tend to have a thicker skin.  They are most often used raw, but sometimes also in cooked preparations (see below).  Pickling cucumbers tend to be smaller and more uniform in size and, when picked at the ideal immature stage, have a number of knobby “warts” on their surface.  Pickling cucumbers are great for pickling, but their extra crunchy texture makes them a great addition to salads and other raw preparations.

    Cucumbers are best known as a vegetable to be eaten raw as in a crudité platter, in salads, in cold soup, in sandwiches, as a base for small hors d’oeuvres, as a filling for sushi rolls, or as pickles. Because they are so neutral and absorb so much flavor they are great marinated with any kind of vinegar.  They also offer a unique cooling effect when served with spicy foods, especially when mixed with yogurt or sour cream, as in Indian raita or Greek tzatziki.

    Some interesting raw cucumber recipes I have seen lately include:

    Because of their high water content, raw cucumbers often release a lot of liquid that dilutes other ingredients. As a result, many recipes require salting and draining cucumber to remove some of the water and avoid over-diluting the recipe. Seeding cucumbers can help reduce water content as well. Whether or you salt or seed or not, always dress cucumber salads just before serving to minimize watering down of the dish over time.

    While a less familiar preparation, cucumbers can also be cooked. Check out this introductory article about cooking cucumbers on e-cookbooks. As an example, cucumbers sautéed for about 3 minutes in butter and a little water are delicious. One of my favorite ways to cook a cucumber is on the grill. Simply brush them with your favorite dressing and grill at medium heat until softened.

    Here are some other interesting cooked cucumber recipes I have encountered recently:

    To store cucumbers, place, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.For best results, use within a week.

    Apparently, cucumbers do not freeze well unless they are brined first.  Here are a few recipes for freezing cucumbers–Thrifty Fun and allrecipes.

    ************************************************************

    I came up with this recipe when craving seaweed salad (Wakame). I decided to try it with cucumber and see what happened. I loved it.

    If you have a spiralizer you can simply spiralize the cucumber into “noodles” rather than using a knife.

    Cucumber “Wakame” Salad                                      Serves 1-2

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 2 medium cucumbers, or 3 small

    – 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

    – 1 teaspoon soy sauce or coconut aminos

    – 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

    – 1/4 teaspoon honey

    – 3/4 teaspoon black sesame seeds

    METHOD:

    1. Peel cucumbers and slice in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out cucumber seeds and discard. Using a knife, cut very thin, long noodle like pieces from the cucumber. Place cucumber noodles in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle cucumber lightly with salt and toss to evenly distribute salt. Allow to sit for 10-20 minutes to release water from cucumbers. Pat dry with paper towels and transfer to a bowl.
    2. In a very small bowl, mix rice vinegar, soy sauce or aminos, honey, and sesame oil. Toss with cucumbers. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and toss to distribute. Serve immediately.

    ***********************************************************

    This refreshing soup was one of the dishes I featured at my cooking demonstration at the farm this past Saturday. It comes together in a flash and offers lots of added protein for sustaining energy and staving off hunger.

    Add more or less shallot depending upon how much spice or kick you prefer.

    Cool Creamy Cucumber Soup                                                Serves 4

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 4 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped

    – 2 small shallots, chopped

    – scant 1/4 cup cutting celery, loosely packed

    – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    – 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

    – 3/4 teaspoon salt

    – 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

    – 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (reduced fat is fine)

    – 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk

    – Relish

    – chopped golden cherry tomatoes

    – minced cutting celery

    METHOD:

    Place cucumbers, shallots, 1/4 cup cutting celery, extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt, and white pepper in a blender. Blend on high until completely smooth. Mix in yogurt and buttermilk. Mix until smooth and completely incorporated. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve cold with tomato and cutting celery relish.

    ***************************************************************

    When you have zucchini and cucumbers coming out of your ears, it is time to change things up and get creative. These recipes bring the mild and (sometimes) mundane zucchini to life!

    Greek Dressing                                                                 Makes ¾ cup

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 1/2 large lemon

    – 2 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

    – 1 large clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

    – 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    – 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

    – freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    – 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

    – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

    METHOD:

    Using either a stand or hand blender blend all ingredients until smooth and emulsified. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

     

    Greek Zucchini Noodle Salad

    If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a mandolin or vegetable peeler to make long strips of zucchini, then use a knife to cut the strips into thin “noodles”

    INGREDIENTS:

    – spiralized zucchini “noodles”, (1 lg zucchini per 2 servings_

    – cucumber, peeled and chopped; (1 small per 2 servings)

    – Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

    – cherry tomatoes, washed and halved

    – feta cheese

    – sliced scallions, about 1 tablespoon per serving

    – Greek Vinaigrette, to taste

    METHOD:

    When ready to serve, toss zucchini noodles with cucumber, tomatoes, olives, scallions, and feta. Toss in vinaigrette to taste. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately.

    Post Tagged with ,
Comments are closed.