Cool as a cucumber

Cooking with Cathie

Cathie CampbellSeptember 12, 2012 

Someone recently posted a picture online, showing cucumbers growing in their home garden. Most people grow tomatoes -- mostly because the ones in the stores are practically tasteless -- but not a lot of people plant cukes.

My dad and grandfather always had gardens and they included lemon cucumbers, which they peeled with pocket knives and ate while tending to those gardens. I think they had a salt shaker, too.

This time of year is perfect for enjoying crisp cucumber salads, so here are a few suggestions for preparing them. It is your choice whether or not to peel them. My preference is to peel.

Hope your summer is good so far.

Marinated cucumbers

  • 6 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup vinegar (I would suggest cider or white)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or your favorite vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard (dry)
  1. In a bowl, combine cucumbers and onion.
  2. In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine remaining ingredients; shake well.
  3. Pour over cucumber mixture and stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve when thoroughly chilled. Makes about 12 servings.

Cucumber sour cream salad

  • 2 cucumbers, very thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar or equal amount lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream or equal amount plain yogurt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  1. In a bowl, mix cucumbers and onion together.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients together in a jar with tight-fitting lid; shake to mix well.
  3. Mix with cucumbers and onion and chill several hours before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Japanese cucumber salad

  • 2 medium cucumbers or 1 large English cucumber (sometimes sold by other names)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  1. Peel cucumbers to leave alternating green stripes. Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise; scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Using a food processor or sharp knife, cut into very thin slices. Place in a double layer of paper towel and squeeze gently to remove any excess moisture.
  2. Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium bowl, stirring to dissolve. Add the cucumbers and sesame seeds; toss well to combine. Serve immediately. Makes about 4 cups.

Black bean, avocado, cucumber and tomato salad

You could add some corn kernels to this recipe if you wish, and perhaps some diced red bell pepper.

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Haas avocados, diced
  • 1 can (15.5-oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing well.
  2. Cover and chill thoroughly before serving. Makes about 5 cups.

Shrimp and cucumber salad, Cajun style

  • 8 ounces (about 20 shrimp) large, uncooked peeled shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun (or Creole) seasoning (such as Tony Chachere's), divided
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice (or white or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 whole English cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons white (or red) wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided (optional)
  • 1/4 cup prepared pico de gallo (fresh salsa)
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat broiler. Place shrimp on a small rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or vinegar), 1 tablespoon oil (if using) and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes until shrimp are completely opaque and pink.
  2. Meanwhile, place cucumber slices in a bowl and toss with remaining 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil (if using), and salt and pepper to taste. Divide cucumbers between two bowls, top each with half of the shrimp and a couple spoonfuls of pico de gallo. Makes 2 servings.

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