Friday, August 24, 2012

Cucumber Recipe Ideas

Cucumbers are good raw in salad and sandwiches. Or peel and cut into sticks and serve plain or with dip. Or make a gourmet salad: sharp cheese, Greek olives, tomatoes, and cukes, all chunked and tossed with raw greens and salad dressing. Or serve cuke slices with chipped onion, tomato, raw greens, and blue cheese dressing.

If allowed to grow, cucumbers will get very large--as long as 10 inches or so. Such a fat cucumber makes a fine child's boat for the bathtub. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and there's your boat. You can feed the other oversized, yellowed or imperfect cucumbers to the chickens or pigs. When feeding them to chickens, first break cukes open. If the chickens aren't hungry enough to stoop to cucumbers, the cukes will still make a fine compost.

In summer we eat lots of cucumber sandwiches, a quick lunch at a time of year when cucumbers are abundant and time is not. Peel and slice fresh cucumbers. Spread homemade bread with mayo, layer on a sliced cucumbers--maybe add slices of fresh garden tomato--and top with another slice of bread.

I usually feel like I'm making oh-so-many of these and then discover by the time the meal is on the table, they are already two-thirds gone, thanks to snitchers and big ones (my husband loves them too). I just peel and slice several cucumbers as for sandwiches. Put them in a bowl with salt, vinegar and water. Now you are going to ask: "How much of each?" Sigh. I never measure, just taste my way to success, so I don't know. It adds up to just barely enough liquid to cover. About half vinegar, half cold water, and maybe 1/2 t. salt. It is a salty dish. The salt pulls the bitterness out of the cucumbers. it needs to be made at least 15 minutes ahead of the meal to let the salt work. The longer ahead you make it, the less salt you should use. It won't keep; it gets too strong.

Peel 3 cucumbers. Mix with 1/2 t. salt. While the cucumbers are being worked on by the salt, peel and slice 3 small-to-medium onions, and add. Make a dressing by beating together 1 c. sour cream, 1.5 T. vinegar, and 2 T. sugar or the equivalent in honey. Pour dressing over and serve.

Jan Franco, Hamden Ct. says cucumbers are also great in yogurt with a bit of dill weed and salt. She just slices them up and tosses them in the yogurt; there's no need to soak them with salt. Or season them with fresh mint leaves and coriander.

Cukes can also be eaten cooked, as you might a summer squash, in soups and vegetable dishes. See summer squash recipes for more possibilities; you can often substitute cukes for zukes.

[Excerpted from Chapter 4: Garden Vegetables. Illustration copyright 1994 by Cindy Davis.]

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