My tomatoes are a bust, but so what? I am drowning in cucumbers. At this point, we have eaten cucumber, in one form or another, everyday for the last four weeks. We do love them year round, but in the summer nothing beats their refreshing flavor, toothsome crunch, and recipe versatility. I have been getting creative with cucumbers and I have come up with some great recipes.
Cucumber Watermelon Salad
I originally posted this one when I made it with verdolagas, wild purslane used in the cuisine of Central Mexico. I omitted them here and added cilantro and/or parsley.
1 cup watermelon, cubed
1 firm tomato, cubed
1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 fresh cilantro or Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 purple onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
Dash Maggi sauce (optional)
Dash Worcestershire sauce
1/s tsp Mexican oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine ingredients and toss with the vinaigrette. Chill for 30 minutes and serve. Perfect for anything off the grill.
Stir-fried cucumbers with beef (Oyi Jikau)
I found this recipe online and adapted it a bit when I made it during last year’s World Cup. It was such a hit that it has stayed in the kitchen repertoire. Light, flavorful, easy, and cucumbery!
½ pound lean rump or fillet
4 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
4 large cucumbers
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
Freeze the beef for a short time to make it firm enough to cut into paper-thin slices. Place in a bowl and add sesame oil, soy, salt, sugar and cayenne pepper. Mix well so flavorings penetrate meat.
Peel cucumbers, leaving a thin strip of green skin at intervals for decorative effect. Cut in halves lengthways, scoop out seeds them cut crossways into medium-thin slices.
Heat the oil in a wok, swirl wok to coat with oil, add beef and stir fry on high heat for 1 minute. Add cucumbers and toss for a further minute, then let mixture simmer until cucumber is tender but still crisp. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve hot with white rice. Makes 4 large portions.
Lanchas de pepino (cucumber boats)
This one came from a conversation with my mom, Mima, when I told her how many cucumbers we had. It is a versatile recipe as the filling can be seasoned in a number of ways. This one is Thai-inspired, but Mexican-style shrimp cocktail or ceviche also work great.
2 large cucumbers
8 oz cooked salad shrimp
1/2 purple onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 fresh chiles (Thai, serrano, jalapeno, etc.)
2 T Thai basil, chopped
2 T fresh mint, chopped
Juice of one large lime or 2 Key limes
1 T fish sauce
Pinch of sugar
Peel cucumbers, leaving a thin strip of green skin at intervals for decorative effect. Cut in halves lengthways and scoop out seeds. Sprinkle with salt and turn upside down over a paper towel. Roughly chop shrimp then mix with the rest of ingredients, adjusting seasoning to taste. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to meld flavors. Pat cucumbers dry with a clean paper towel and place in serving plate. Fill cucumbers with the shrimp mixture. Serve immediately or refrigerate to serve within the hour. Enjoy with a cold beer.
Coming up next: refrigerator pickles for all!