Seasonal Finds: Recipes Using Cucumber

– by Jakob Anderson, Food Writer –

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Please note: photos are for illustrative purposes only.

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Most of us in North America do not give cucumbers the respect they deserve. They are simply used as “just something to put in a lettuce salad or eat with dip”. While both of those statements are true, cucumbers don’t deserve to just take a back seat. Many countries such as Greece  have developed recipes (tzatziki) that will make you think twice before putting cucumbers mindlessly into your salads. Also, don’t settle with just eating raw cucumbers. The best experience I’ve ever had with a cucumber was a palate cleanser I ate at the Actinolite Restaurant in Toronto. They served a “charred cucumber sorbet with compressed cucumber, fennel and mint.” Now I don’t expect you to produce this kind of magic in the kitchen (but by all means try). I just wanted to prove that cucumbers have depth. Here are a fews ways to let the surprisingly versatile cucumber flex its muscles.

Cucumber and Dill Salad with Curry Yogurt

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This tactile herb goes as well with cucumbers as it does pickles.

I know, I just told you to slow your roll with cucumbers in salad, but this is something different. Not to mention super simple to whip up on a weeknight with a nice piece of fish.

2 cups large diced cucumber

1/2 onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced (if you have a microplane, use it)

1 cup labneh or greek yogurt

1 tbsp curry powder

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

10 sprigs dill, chopped small

Salt and pepper to taste

1 small red chili, deseeded and sliced thin (optional)

Mix cucumber, garlic, onion and lemon juice in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix labneh, curry powder, salt, pepper, olive oil and dill (reserve a few for garnish). Add yogurt mixture to cucumber and stir to combine. Top with chili (if using) and additional dill.

Grilled Leeks with Charred Cucumber and Jalapeno Vinaigrette and Feta

Leeks make an exceptionally healthy base to any meal (and taste great when barbecued).

Leeks make an exceptionally healthy base to any meal (and taste great when barbecued).

See my charred vegetable article to understand my love affair with CHARRRR. This dish is also better once the leeks cool down and start to firm up again, which is why I recommend doing the leeks first.

2 large leeks or 4 small

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 medium sized cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise

1/2 onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced (again I recommend the microplane)

1/2 jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp rice vinegar (plain old white vinegar works as well)

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Heat bbq on high and grill leeks with oil and seasonings until cooked through (you know the drill, don’t panic if the outside is black). Slice leeks into large pieces and set aside. Rub cucumber in oil and place skin side down on bbq. You are looking to get nice char and colour on them, but not cook them through. Remove from bbq, allow to cool and then chop into small dice. Mix cucumber, onion, garlic, jalapeño, olive oil and vinegar. Pour vinaigrette over leeks and top with parsley and feta.

“Late for the Flight” Shake

The "Late For The Flight" shake will have you feeling regular in no time.

The “Late For The Flight” shake will have you feeling regular in no time.

Joe Rogan got me onto kale shakes back in the day. He would always jokingly say,  “after downing one of these your bowels will be running out as if they were late to catch a flight.” As gross a joke as that is…he’s not wrong. I drink shakes like this after a long night out eating and drinking. The aftermath of this shake should be seen as a positive, and the shake itself is surprisingly tasty and refreshing. It’s a perfect body reset, and the cucumber adds a unique and light flavour!

1 cups almond milk

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 cup spinach

1/2 large cucumber or 1 small

1 cup pineapple

1/2 avocado

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

5 basil leaves (optional)

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until silky smooth. Drink in the morning sunshine…and keep the bathroom close!

Jakob Anderson is a trained cook and food enthusiast who approaches cooking as something that connects people in ways they don’t realize. “I love talking about food, eating food, thinking food, discussing food, debating food, think about debating food, fooding food? I love food.”

You can follow Jakob on Twitter @jakobanderson and Q-Avenue @QuincyAvenue

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