(9/2015) Cucumbers are in abundance at this time of the year coming from not only our own gardens but also locally at our farmers markets. There are many varieties of cucumbers including the popular English, Garden (American Slicing) and Kirby or Pickling. Some not so well known but equally delicious in their own right; Lemon, Armenian and Persian
Yes, I did say Lemon Cucumbers. They are yellow, are shaped like lemons have thin skins and have very few seeds. Wonderful in salads these cucumbers are also delicious on their own and can make for a great pickle!
Persian cucumbers are very similar in shape to English cucumbers but they tend to have more variety in length and can be slightly bumpy like a Kirby. Even with the bumps they do have a very thin skin which makes them ideal for salads and slicing for dips. The small seeds aids for ease in digestion and takes away the need to de-seed when making soup or
cocktails. These cucumbers are not as readily available as their look-a-like, the English Cucumber. We most often see the English variety in the produce section, usually wrapped in plastic. Most people assume that these cucumbers need to grow in hot houses but they do not. The plastic wrap used in grocery stores is to protect the thin skin. English cucumbers are great to use
for cocktails as they are very mild in flavor.
Some great AND easy cocktail recipes for English cucumbers include Sake and Martinis! To make a great Cold Cucumber Sake combine 3 slices of cucumbers with 4 ounces of sake and a handful of ice cubes. Shake vigorously and top with three more slices for garnish. My personal favorite cucumber cocktail is the Cucumber Martini. Made with Hendrick's Gin
this is the quintessential summer cocktail! For this amazing cocktail combine 2 1/2 ounces of Hendrick's gin with 1/2 and a large handful of ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass (the best way to chill a martini glass is by either leaving in your freezer for a few minutes or by filling it with ice and club soda for at least a
minute and then discarding). Both of the these cocktail recipes can be multiplied and served in pitchers and both are equally as satisfying on the rocks or up!
One more cocktail recipe and then I promise we are on to food. This one is for Cucumber Sangria! A friend of mine shared this with me and while I have not personally had one it sounds absolutely delicious and refreshing. And you can make it non-alcoholic by substituting the Sauvignon Blanc with Fresca or Lemonade.
- 1 small honeydew melon
- 1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, thinly sliced
- 12 fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 750 milliliter bottle Sauvignon blanc or other semi-dry white wine, chilled
- 1 1 liter bottle carbonated water, chilled
- Fresh mint sprigs and/or leaves (optional)
1. Cut the melon in half; remove and discard seeds and rind. Cut melon into thin slices. In a large pitcher* combine melon, cucumber, lime slices, and the 12 mint leaves. In a small bowl stir together lime juice and honey until combined; pour over melon mixture. Add wine, stirring gently. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
2. To serve, stir in carbonated water. Ladle or pour into glasses. If desired, garnish with additional mint.
Cucumbers are also delicious in food! So while you are sipping your favorite Cucumber Cocktail try your hand at these super easy and delicious items. Cucumber Salad, Cucumber Dill Soup and one of my all time favorites sauces, Tzatziki!
Cucumber Salad is a staple at most summer time picnics and with good reason, it is so easy to prepare! I have tried many cucumber salads over the years. There are those that are made with buttermilk and sour cream with red onions (a little heavy for my liking), those made with tomatoes and red onions with sugar and vinegar (a little too sweet for my
liking) and then there is my favorite; Spicy Cucumber Salad!
Spicy Cucumber Salad
- 4 cucumbers (either English or Garden), thinly sliced
- 1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
- 2 jalapeZos, thinly sliced (you can remove seeds for a milder flavor)
- 2 cups rice wine vinegar
- Truffle Salt and Lemon Pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil (if desired for a drizzle at service)
Combine all ingredients and allow to set for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.
It's that easy, that's all she wrote, end of story........except for enjoying, of course!
Cucumber Dill Soup is one of my all time favorite summer soups. Light and refreshing, this is a great starter or finisher for a fabulous summer meal!
Cucumber Dill Soup
- 4 of your favorite cucumbers, peeled as desired and seeded
- 1 pint of buttermilk
- 16 ounces of sour cream
- 5 tablespoons fresh dill, picked from the stem
- Dill sprigs, for garnish
- Lemon Pepper and Truffle Salt to taste
Peel and seed cucumbers and process in food processor until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process again. Allow to chill for a minimum of 30 minutes. Pour into soup cups and garnish with dill sprig.
Tzatziki sauce is a classic Sauce in Greek cooking. Here in the states this sauce is used as a sauce for Gyro sandwich, a Greek/Lebanese meatloaf served with pita brea. It is, however, incredibly versatile going well with beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish and vegetables. I personally love it as a light dressing for grilled or roasted vegetables. Again, a
very easy recipe to follow and perfect for the hot days soon to be upon us.
Tzatziki Recipe (from AboutFood.com)
- 1 large garden or English cucumber
- 1/2 to 1 cup yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped dill
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out any seeds. Shred the cucumber on the large hole of a grater into a large bowl.
Stir in the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in dill, if using. You can serve immediately or let it sit for a few hours, covered and chilled, and allow the flavors to blend.
If you want to be cool as a cucumber and the envy of all of your friends this month pull out these amazing and incredibly easy recipes!
As always, should you have a question, an idea for an article or are in need of my personal chef/catering services please contact me at email@example.com. Be sure to check out my website, www.thefoodchick.biz.
Until next month, Happy Eating!
Read other articles by Brooke Hagerty