Tuesday, August 26, 2003
posted by Julie |
Lets say you started a cucumber plant earlier this year. And you watered faithfully, and you had a nice amount of sun, good dirt. Well then you ought to be about up to your armpits in cukes right now.
What now? You could give them away at the office, leave them in neighbors' mailboxes, use them as hostess gifts. Or you might find new ways to enjoy them. I recommend all three approaches, frankly.
I've always loved cucumbers, and used to sneak them from my mom's garden during lazy and hot August afternoons when I was a kid. They seemed the perfect food to me at the time, because they were filling and juicy, and because you could eat the whole thing, skin and all. Neat, efficient, able to travel well in a back pocket.
What I didn't know is what a perfect summer vegetable they are, especially for runners, walkers, people on diets. Yes they are filling. Yes they contain a great deal of water. So during a time when heat and workouts can leave you dehydrated and hungry, cucumbers will both fill and hydrate you for very few calories, bringing loads of potassium, a little protein, and if you can get them very fresh and unwaxed so you can eat the skin, you'll get silica, too, which will help sustain your hair, skin, and nails.
And then there's that special, fresh, summery, green, light, sweet, herbal flavor.
Carve big ones into boats, and braise them in a little stock. Then fill them with a coulis of roasted peppers or tomatoes. Fit for company.
Seed, chunk, and salt them lightly. Let them drain for 10 minutes or so, as you would an eggplant. Rinse off the excess salt and dry them by pressing lightly between towels. Then sauté them lightly in olive oil, with a little salt, pepper, and fresh parsley. Don't overcook, or they will become mushy, but sauté them over high heat and lightly, and you'll have a smooth, wonderful dish especially good for serving alongside grilled fish.
Try a tan abour, or yogurt-cucumber soup, served chilled. Mince a glove or two of garlic, and stir it into 4-5 cups of plain yogurt. Try to use a whole yogurt, rather than a low-fat variety, if you can find it. Or make your own yogurt. Add two tablespoons of finely shredded mint, two tablespoons of finely shredded basil, and 3 cups of finely minced, seeded cucumber. Salt and ground black pepper to taste. Chill this soup for 4 hours or overnight. Stir again. The cucumbers will have released a good bit of their liquid, but if the soup is still too thick, dilute it with a little water. Garnish with basil leaves and very thin cucumber slices.
Julia Child's cream of cucumber soup, made with farina, is a classic.
Cucumber salad recipes abound. My favorite is so simple. Thinly sliced cucumbers tossed with olive oil, parsley, and chives, white pepper and a little salt. The Scandinavian version is done with sour cream and dill. If you can handle the saturated fats and dairy, go for it.
Beautiful vegetable terrines begin and end with well salted and drained cucumber slices. Or try cucumbers as a main ingredient in seaweed-wrapped sashimi, combining seaweed, drained cukes, and tuna. A perfect blend of tastes and textures.
Hair-thin, sliced, salted, drained, and dried cucumbers in beautiful overlapping layers make a great first layer in your end-of-season spring rolls, and a great base to wrap shredded veggies and sprouts.
Wrap small salmon steaks in overlapping super-thin slices of cucumbers, then wrap again in parchment for steaming. The presentation will be beautiful. Blend and slightly warm cucumbers, sour cream, and dill as a base sauce for this presentation.
Bitter skins mean the cucumber has passed its prime. Peel and seed those cucumbers, using the flesh for a puree, or a savory smoothie of yogurt, cucumber, and a dash of cumin.
The seeds are said to have a slight diuretic effect. I haven't noticed, personally, but it might help you if you have a tendency to hold onto a lot of water.
There. You should have used up your abundance of cucumbers by now. But if not, you can always resort to pickles.
Lots of great cuke info from innvista.com, including some crazy ideas the Romans had about them
Julia Child's Cream of Cucumber Soup from Chef2Chef
Make your own yogurt
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