I’ve always been a fan of cucumbers. As a picky kid who had an attitude about most vegetables, I loved cucumbers for their crunchy texture and mild taste. Now as a grown-up, I appreciate their versatility. Cucumbers are as comfortable in a tea sandwich with watercress as they are in a Vietnamese sub or a marinated Southern salad.
Backyard gardens are awash in cucumbers right now, and local farmers are harvesting them like crazy. Here are some fast and easy ways to enjoy the bounty.
Canapés with fresh dill and goat cheese
So simple. On toasted slices of French bread, spread mayo or herbed goat cheese and top with a thin disc of cucumber and a sprig of fresh dill. Tomatoes work great here as well.
Tuna sashimi salad
Toss cubes of fresh yellowfin tuna with avocado, cucumber and watermelon and a dressing of soy sauce, olive oil, wasabi powder and lime juice. Top with fresh mint.
Classic tomato-cucumber salad
This is the stuff of Southern potlucks and church suppers, and it never tastes better than when made in mid-summer. Whisk 1/4 cup each cider vinegar and canola oil, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Slice 3 medium tomatoes and 1 large or 2 small cucumbers into a bowl, pour in marinade and gently toss. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Sautéed with butter and fresh herbs
Julia Child was a big fan of sauteed cucumbers and detailed instructions for preparing them exist in her famed Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1. Here, I sauteed 1 cup of peeled, thinly sliced cucumbers in a pat of melted butter over medium high heat for 3 minutes. Remove and toss with slivers of fresh mint and basil, a squirt of lemon juice and Kosher salt to taste. Serve as a side dish with grilled shrimp or roast chicken. Prepared like this, they taste like mild squash.
Combine 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup peeled and diced cucumbers, 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced garlic, 1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Serve with grilled lamb, chicken, shrimp tucked in fresh pita. Enough for 2-4 servings.