Through the Fire

Cooking our way into a new relationship with food!

Cool As A Cucumber

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I am cool, calm, and collected. I am as cool as a cucumber. Did you ever wonder the origin of that
expression ? Me too, so I looked it up. According to the Free Dictionary, in hot weather the insides of a cucumber stay cooler than the outside temperature. Cool!

There are great reasons for eating cucumbers this time of year other than the cooling factor. In Summer, we need to up our liquids. It’s not always easy to drink enough, so it’s a really good idea to eat the juicy stuff that is ripe this time of year. ( See how our beautiful Mother Earth wants to feed us well? ) Melons, other fruits, tomatoes, cucumbers, all part of a great summer diet and feast. Cucumbers are known to have anti inflammatory properties, as well as anti cancer and anti-oxidant. Read all about their nutritional value here.

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I have a bumper crop of cucumbers in my garden right now. Yay!! So good, though I let these get a little bit big. They grow fast. I thought I would share some ideas of how to enjoy them. I tend to eat them just sliced as a snack, or if it is small, I just bite pieces off the whole thing as I go.

To peel or not to peel ? I tend to mostly eat the Japanese variety of cucumbers which have a thinner skin so I don’t peel. These, I just picked from the garden got a little tough so I may partially peel them. They are organic and I am the only one who handled them so I will reap the benefits of that extra nutrition and fiber without any health concerns.

Greek salad

I am sure most of you have some favorite cucumber salad idea. Here are some. Please feel free to add your own in the comment section below. You could go the Japanese route – slice them with a mandoline or as thinly as possible with a knife. Marinate them for a while in a dressing made of sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and some salt. You could go Greek style as above with cucumbers, tomatoes, Feta Cheese, olives, with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add some garlic, salt and pepper.  I don’t know what the origin of this idea is but I do know it is a delicious combination. Try cucumber, mango, and avocado chunks mixed delicately ( unless you want the avocado mushed ) with an oil and lime vinaigrette dressing. ( Add some thinly sliced red onions for a little zip)

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Cucumber cups! A blank canvas waiting for your inspiration. I love them filled with cottage cheese, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. I can’t eat cottage cheese too often – too much dairy – but this is a great way to do so. Fill these bad boys with egg salad, chicken or tempeh salad, salsa, some sort of cream cheese mixture ( how about smoked salmon? )

 

Fresh delicious tasty cold tomato soup gazpacho in white bowl with spoon on wooden board, closeup, horizontal

I don’t have tomatoes ripening in the garden yet but some of you do. Have you ever made Gazpacho ? It is a delicious cold tomato and cucumber soup..

Gazpacho

1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, save any juice
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced ( feel free to omit)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced ( I usually use 2)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix everything in a bowl . In several batches ( depending on the size of your blender), purée the ingredients. Put back into a mixing bowl or container, and store covered in the refrigerator. Let it chill for an hour or so before serving. It’s good cold! or you could have it room temperature. I like mine more on the chunky side so I have some chewing to do, so how long you blend it is up to your discretion. Ha! As is everything with any recipe I share. Typically, this is not something I would measure. I might use more cucumber on a day. The recipe might depend on what kind of tomatoes I found that day. I might add some cilantro or some basil, or use one of those for a garnish. I grow a lot of parsley in my garden to I might use some of that. Change up what kind of vinegar you add, or maybe you don’t like vinegar.  Make it your own.

It’s great as a snack, or as a starter to a meal. I’ve been known to add some cooked shrimp to it and make it a whole meal.

Here are some links to some other cucumber recipes I found online.

Creamy Cucumber soup from Eating Well magazine
Honeydew, Cucumber and Mint Cooler  from Real Simple

Enjoy! and please let me know your favorite cucumber recipes in the comments below.

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