14 ways to enjoy cucumbers

August 6, 2013

Cucumbers on JillHough.com

Amidst all the excitement about tomatoes and peppers and corn and eggplant, it’s easy to forget another just-as-summery seasonal favorite.

Cucumbers.

Typically, I forget them myself, at least gardening-wise. But this year, for the first time, I planted a couple.

And so alongside our boxy tomato trellis, there’s a more teepee-shaped one for cucumbers. I’m enjoying the new-to-me vines, with their big leaves and curlicued tendrils, and how prettily they’re inching skyward.

Cucumbers on JillHough.com

I’m also enjoying the fruits of their labor, those beautiful vines. Here’s how:

1. In a green salad, natch

2. In a cucumber salad
I particularly like a combo we used to feature at my café—sliced cucumbers with fresh cilantro, rice vinegar, a dab of sesame oil, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

3. Combined with tomatoes
I adore tabbouleh and panzanella, but most often make a simpler version of the cuke-tom duo—a few slices of each arranged on a plate, drizzled with olive oil and vinegar, and sprinkled with salt and chopped fresh herbs.

4. In a salsa
Add them to tomato salsa, sure, but cukes are also great in mango, pineapple, and other fruit salsas.

5. As a sauce
Raita, anyone? Or puree cucumbers with yogurt and herbs for a tangy sauce to go with fish.

6. As a relish
Mix diced cucumbers with a little onion, your favorite herb, oil, and vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice. Drape it over chicken, fish, steaks, or chops. Or use it on crostini or to fill a halved avocado.

7. As a cold soup
Speaking of avocado, how about my Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Crab? Ridiculously easy to make, super snazzy to serve.

Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Crab on JillHough.com

8. In a slaw

9. In a sandwich

10. Infused into gin
Inspired by my beloved strawberry vodka, I’m currently brewing a batch of cucumber gin. I’m not too upset it won’t be ready for this weekend’s guests because then I’d have to share it.

11. Infused into water or soda water
There’s a reason why there’s a pitcher of water and sliced cucumbers at every spa you’ve ever been to. It’s deliciously refreshing. Keep some in the fridge and you’ll have a spa glow all summer long.

12. Pureed, in other beverages
Like agua fresca or cucumber limeade.

13. Pickled—again, natch

14. As a snack
The slices in these photos? Just ate ‘em.

Cucumbers on JillHough.com

Other ideas? I’ve got a ton of cukes still on the vine…

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4 thoughts on “14 ways to enjoy cucumbers

  1. Ivy Manning

    Isn’t growing cucumbers fun? Pick one and 3 will pop up to go to its funeral! I will be giving this cold soup a go, looks lovely and I had not thought of infusing gin…brilliant. Last night I made an impromptu white miso, brown rice vinegar, oil, soy sauce vinaigrette and tossed it with some sliced cucumbers and some steamed Tokyo turnips I grew. Lovely, expect for the turnips. I just don’t like them, though their greens are delish..

  2. Jill Post author

    It IS fun, Ivy. I just love going “shopping” for dinner in the back yard and forgoing the pain-in-the-arse of the supermarket–although it sounds like you do a LOT more growing than me. I’ve never heard of Tokyo turnips! And you inspire me re: white miso. I have a tub of it in the fridge–probably inspired by one of your recipes in Fine Cooking!–and like it, but don’t really know how to use it. So thanks for the learnin’–I’m going to make your cucumber salad for lunch!

  3. Jill Post author

    Thanks for saying so, Mary! Cukes and avocado are a great combination–the avocado gives the cucumber creaminess, and the cucumber gives the avocado a sort of refreshing sweetness. That said, I think they key to my recipe is the tad of jalapeno, which gives the whole thing a background warmth. Let me know if you try it!

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