Jul
11
    
Posted (Lori) in News

CUCUMBERS

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 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. Cucumbers are also part of classic chopped salads—tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, dill, salt and pepper, all chopped and seasoned with oil and vinegar.

CUCUMBER AND DILL SALAD

2 6-inch cucumbers; peel only if the skin is tough; thinly sliced

¼ cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a non-metal bowl; make sure all the cucumbers are submerged. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. To serve, remove the cucumbers with a slotted spoon. Don’t throw away the liquid—use it for storing leftovers or for the next batch.

JAPANESE CUCUMBER SALAD

3small 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 cucumber, 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, and garlic.

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

CHINESE SMASHED CUCUMBERS WITH SESAME OIL AND GARLIC

Sam Sifton, NYT

About 2 pounds thin-skinned cucumbers like English or Persian (8 to 10 mini cucumbers, 4 medium-size or 2 large greenhouse)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cucumbers

2 teaspoons granulated sugar, plus more for cucumbers

1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon grapeseed or extra-virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced or put through a press

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Small handful whole cilantro leaves, for garnish

2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

  1. Rinse cucumbers and pat dry. Cut crosswise into pieces about 4 inches long. Cut each piece in half lengthwise.
  2. On a work surface, place a piece of cucumber (or several) cut side down. Lay the blade of a large knife flat on top the cucumber and smash down lightly with your other hand. The skin will begin to crack, the flesh will break down and the seeds will separate. Repeat until the whole piece is smashed. Break or slice diagonally into bite-size pieces, leaving the seeds behind.
  3. Place the cucumber pieces in a strainer and toss with a big pinch of salt and a big pinch of sugar. Place a plastic bag filled with ice on top of the cucumbers to serve as a weight and place the strainer over a bowl. Let drain 15 to 30 minutes on the counter, or in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.
  4. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar and rice vinegar. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in sesame oil and soy sauce.
  5. When ready to serve, shake cucumbers well to drain off any remaining liquid and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with grapeseed or olive oil and toss. Add half the dressing, half the garlic and the red pepper flakes to taste, and toss. Keep adding dressing until cucumbers are well coated but not drowned. Taste and add more pepper flakes and garlic if needed. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds.

CUCUMBERS WITH LABNEH AND CHERRIES

Oliver Strand, NYT

for the cherries:

  • 2 cups sweet cherries, halved and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

for the za’atar:

  • 2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds, ground
  • 1 tablespoon whole toasted sesame seeds
  • ¾ cup dried rose petals, roughly ground
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sumac
  • 1 teaspoon parsley seeds, ground, or toasted crushed fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

for the rose water labneh:

  • 2 cups labneh
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Black pepper, to taste

for the cucumbers:

  • 9 to 12 small cucumbers, rinsed and cut on the bias into 1/2-inch slices
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  1. Make the cherries: Place the cherries in a bowl and add vinegar, sugar and salt. Toss to coat. Cover and let sit in refrigerator. (This can be done the day before.)
  2. Make the za’atar: Mix together ground raw sesame seeds, whole toasted sesame seeds, roughly ground rose petals, sumac, parsley or fennel seeds, and salt. (Za’atar will keep for up to one week in a tightly sealed container.)
  3. Make the rose water labneh: Combine labneh, salt, lemon zest, grated garlic, rose water, honey and pepper. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator. (This can be made earlier in the day.)
  4. Make the cucumbers: Mix together cucumbers with lemon juice, a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat and set aside.
  5. To assemble the salad, cover labneh with cucumbers and cherries, and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of za’atar on top. Serve family-style and immediately.

GINGER CUCUMBER SALAD WITH SCALLOPS

Mark Bittman, NYT

1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds cucumber, preferably thin Asian or English variety

½ cup rice vinegar or 1/2 cup white vinegar diluted with 1/4 cup water

2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 pound sea scallops (cut in half through their equators if very large) or shrimp, peeled

1 medium to large onion, sliced

½ teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

PREPARATION

  1. With Asian or English cucumbers (or small garden cucumbers), slice thinly, preferably with a mandoline. With thick cucumbers, peel, halve lengthwise, and scoop out seeds before slicing.
  2. Mix vinegar, ginger, sugar and salt, and toss with cucumbers. Let stand for 30 to 60 minutes. (Refrigerate if marinating for more than an hour in warm weather.)
  3. Just before serving, drain excess liquid. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Wait a minute, then add scallops or shrimp. Sear for about 2 minutes to a side, then remove to a plate. Turn heat to medium, add remaining oil, onions and turmeric, if you are using it. Cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until browned and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir onions into cucumbers, top with scallops or shrimp, garnish with sesame seeds, and serve.


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