Jul
23
    
Posted (Lori) in News

CUCUMBERS

There are nine cucumbers in a full share this week, which really is not that many. If there are two people eating the share, that’s not even one cucumber per day.

And there are lots of ways to use cucumbers. Save and chill a few slices to place over your eyes; they immediately make you feel cooler and may reduce puffiness. Although cucumbers are 95% water, they’re also full of vitamins (especially E and K) and research is showing that they’re also full of anti-oxidants and other healthy elements.

I found some recipes on the web that called for braising cucumbers; I tried it and can’t recommend it. I don’t think cooking adds anything, and it takes away the great crunch. Would love to hear from someone who has a good cooked cucumber recipe.

Dips

In countries with hot climates, cucumbers are used as coolers, often combined with very spicy food. In Indian RAITA, they’re combined with curry and yogurt; in Greek TZAKTZIKI, they are mixed with lemon, dill, and yogurt. You’ll find recipes for both on p. 153 in Recipes from America’s Small Farms

Salads

Creamy (yogurt or sour cream) and tart (vinegar-based) cucumber salads are easy to make. Here’s one that uses several of this week’s vegetables, and a Japanease version. Cucumbers are also part of classic chopped salads—tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, dill, salt and pepper, all chopped and seasoned with oil and vinegar.

Cucumber/Fennel Salad

Combine 1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt, 3 tbs horseradish sauce, 1 tbs chopped dill (basil can be substituted if you don’t have dill left over from last week), 1 tsp crushed garlic and 1 tbs. lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix.

Cut 1 large or 2 small cucumbers in half; scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice thinly. Chop 1 small fennel bulb into small pieces. If you have kohlrabi, celery, or carrots, they can be added. Raisins and nuts are also good. Combine the vegetables with the dressing; let the salad rest for at least an hour.

Japanese Cucumber Salad

3 small cucumbers

1/4 tsp salt

3 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame seeds

Slice cucumbers as thin as you can. Stir in salt, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Squeeze water out from cucumbers.

In a small bowl, mix rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce together until sugar dissolves.

Add vinegar mixture and sesame seeds to prepared cucumbers and mix well.

Soups

Here’s the basic recipe, with some variations:

1 pound cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced

½ tsp salt

1-1/2 cups fat-free plain yogurt

1 green onion, coarsely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

4-1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh dill

Additional chopped green onion and snipped fresh dill

In a colander set over a bowl, toss cucumbers with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Squeeze and pat dry.

Place the cucumbers, yogurt, onion and garlic in a food processor; cover and process until smooth. Stir in dill. Serve immediately in chilled bowls. Garnish with additional onion and dill.

Variations:

Add ½ cup of chopped shrimp

Add ½ teaspoon (or more, to taste) curry powder

Add flavored croutons; combine your favorite spices (curry, chili, zaatar, etc) with 2 tbs butter. Spread on bread, and cut into cubes..Spread the cubes on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven or in pan until golden.

Swirl in a few tablespoons of pesto.

Sandwiches

Cucumbers make elegant small open sandwiches—a triangle of bread, a shmear of cheese, a slice of cucmber, a sprinkle of salt. But they can also take part in heartier sandwiches—layered over cheese, tomatoes, broiled vegetables (such as eggplant and squash), And a chopped cucumber salad is just right in a pita, with or without falafel.

Stuffed

I couldn’t find many recipes for stuffed cucumbers on the web. Is it because it’s too obvious or because most people over five years old don’t eat them? I use cucumbers this way all the time.

Cut cucumbers in half and scoop out the seeds. Some stuffings that work well:

–Salmon, tuna, shrimp, or other seafood, mashed with mayo, horseradish sauce, or other dressings

–Bean dip or chilled refried beans

–Goat or feta cheese mixed with chopped radish, fennel, garlic, and fennel.

Pickles

If you still have cucumbers left over—there’s a great recipe for bread-and-butter pickles in Recipes from America’s Small Farms, p. 180

FENNEL

I’m not a great fan of the flavor of fennel, but I find that when it’s mixed with other vegetables, it adds a great background texture and taste. People rave over the Marinated Fennel and Mushroom recipe in Recipes from America’s Small Farms, p.115. Steve Waxman’s recipe for Tomato-Fennel Soup, also in recipes from America’s Farms is also great, but I don’t think we’ll get enough fennel this week.

A bit of fennel can be chopped into any salad, or mixed into any cucumber recipe. Here’s one more—I haven’t tried it, but it sounds delicious. I think that squsash and/or spinach can be substituted for the green beans. And I’d add a handful of toasted almonds or sunflower seeds, for a little crunch.

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

1 fennel bulb, cut into thin slices

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2vtablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Fill a saucepan half full with water and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and fennel slices; cook until just beginning to become tender, about 4 minutes. Pour into a colander to drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Return the empty pan to the stove and set heat to medium. Pour in the olive oil and let it heat for a minute. Return the green beans and fennel to the pan. Season with basil, salt, and pepper; cook and stir until coated and warm. Transfer to a serving dish and toss with feta cheese.

LEEKS

Most of my leek recipes are fall-focused, but they can be used in place of onions in any recipe. They can also be broiled or roasted with squash and fennel slices (they’re ready in about the same time). Leek-potato soup is a classic, and some people like it chilled; you’ll find dozens of recipes for it on the web; it’s sometimes called vichyssoise.

Here’s my favorite use for leeks; I use these over mashed potatoes, but they’re also great mixed into green salads.

Frizzled leeks

Combine 1.4 cup flour with 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Wash 1 leek carefully and slice into thin rings. Separate the rings and toss with the flour mixture.

Heat ¼ cup oil in a small pot; it should be very hot, but not smoking. Have a slotted spoon ready. Toss the leek rings into the oil and watch them closely until they frizzle; it will take less than a minute. Remove the frizzles and drain on paper towels.

And this sounds simple;

Warm Leeks with Toasted Walnuts
Vegetarian Times Issue: March 1, 2007
3 medium leeks, dark green parts trimmed
1 Tbs. roasted walnut oil
2 Tsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tsp. whole-grain mustard
1 small shallot, minced (about 1 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. chopped toasted walnuts
Directions
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop leeks in water, and simmer 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with knife. Drain, and pat dry with paper towel.
Slice leeks in half lengthwise, then cut into bite-size pieces. Whisk together walnut oil, vinegar, mustard and shallot in medium bowl. Place leeks in vinaigrette, and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with walnuts, and serve.
Nutritional Information
Per SERVING: Calories: 175, Protein: 3g, Total fat: 10g, Saturated fat: 1g, Carbs: 20g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 304mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 6g



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