Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cucumber Craziness! (cuke recipes)

a suburban greenmom indulges a plenitude of cukes

(Note: this is a recycled post from my personal blog two years ago...instead of creating a nice new leisurely post, this morning I'm taking my daughter to the doc to see if her achy wrist from a playground fall yesterday afternoon is broken or just sprained...but I hope it will be helpful, since it's that time of year when the cucumbers are coming out of my ears!)

I love cucumbers.
But all of a sudden I have way more than I know what to do with.

I did find one fabulous recipes link, where there are tons of great cucumber recipes. I would be all over these, and I hope the link will be useful to some people, but I am operating with a handicap. No, it’s nothing as dramatic or valid as a food intolerance, it’s a spousal thing. My husband likes cucumbers, but he doesn’t like creamy things (so much for tzatziki), vinegary things (so no pickles), or cold soup (too bad,gazpacho). Sigh. I mean, of course there’s nothing stopping me from making these things for myself, but there’s no way I’d be able to eat enough of any of it to compensate for our cucumber plenitude.

So I’m looking for other things. There are only so many nights when we can have peeled cucumber sticks for dinner, you know?

(By the way…we had a problem early on with this yucky bitter edge to our sliced cucumbers. I looked it up–God bless the internet–and it turns out the bitterness is the result of a compound called cucurbitacin which is located closer to the stems of the plant. It’s suggested that if you cut off an inch or so at the stem end and peel the cuke under running water or even just rinse it after peeling a lot of this bitterness can be alleviated. So far it’s worked for us.)

This cucumber salsa recipe (found here) looks very promising:

Cucumber Tomato Salsa Recipe

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano chili peppers, seeded and chopped roughly
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 to 5 fresh roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 dash hot sauce or 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt or sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

To seed the cucumber, cut lengthwise. Take a spoon and scrape seeds out over a sink, leaving a boat, almost as if for a filling. Place in the work bowl of a food processor, fitted with a metal blade.

Peel and slice onion in quarters. Add to the food processor. Add the garlic cloves. Pulse four to five times, until the cucumber and onion are diced. Be careful not to over-process, or the salsa will end up mushy. Add the cilantro, jalapeno or serrano chili peppers (without the seeds unless you want this salsa to be spicy), lime juice, tomatoes and hot sauce. Pulse a few times until the salsa comes together. Do not over-process! You don’t want a soup. The chunks let your guests know this salsa is homemade. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

(EDIT: I made this last night, or something fairly close to it, only I didn’t pulse it but left it more relish-like. I don’t measure or anything, I just threw in what I had; I also added about a teaspoon of powdered cumin and a little salt-free chili powder, and I went a little heavier on the jalapeno hot pepper sauce, because I used an anaheim and a poblano pepper, both pretty mild, instead of the serranos the recipe called for. It wasreally good, and even my salsa-picky spouse was happy to eat it. Cucumbers doseem to behave a lot like tomatoes in salsa, which is good news…)

*****

There’s also one recipe on the original site that looks like a really nice salad that might fly at home:

Couscous Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups good stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 small cucumber or zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/3 cup currants or raisins
  • 1-2 cups canned chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy medium saucepan, whisk together the stock, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and turmeric. Add the couscous in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly, and continue to boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Cover the pot tightly, remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

Fluff the couscous grains with a fork, transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool. Then fluff again, rubbing with your fingers to break up any lumps. Add the carrot, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, apple, currants and chick peas and toss.

In a small jar with a lid, shake the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil with the lemon juice, salt and pepper until well mixed. Pour over the salad and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or up to 3 days. Season with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste before serving.

******

If anyone has any other thoughts or experiences, I’d love to hear about them!!

--Jenn the Greenmom

p.s. another thing I've learned since then is that a lot of cucumber recipes (once you get away from the really obvious ones like tzatziki and gazpacho) can take zucchini substitution with very little damage or drama--including pickles!--so that's a thought too for those of us sick of squash as well!


p.p.s. it was a buckle fracture. She now sports a very pretty light blue cast, for the next 3-5 weeks. Poor little thing.

4 comments:

Olivia said...

Thank you!! I, too, have cukes coming out my ears.I wonder if cukes and zucchini are interchangeable in baking as well?

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Olivia--I don't think so; cukes have more liquid in them. I think. I've tried zukes in cuke recipes, but never the reverse, and I'm not sure it would work...

But hey, if you try it and it works, please let us know!!

Elizabeth said...

I made a cucumber slushie the other night. I had a Hmong cookbook out of the library and it said take a large yellow cucumber, scrape out the pulp and put in a glass with ice and some sugar. I also added lemon juice. I was very different and refreshing. I am going to try adding lime juice to the next one.

Kristen said...

I used cucumber in a green smoothie for the first time tonight - 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup peeled and diced cucumber, 1 cup spinach, 1 cup frozen strawberries. It turned out a funky green, but it was yummy and refreshing!

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