Cool ways to use cucumbers

baby cucumbers

After a cold wet spring and several hail storms, my struggling cucumber plants are finally setting little cukes. Cucumbers are a summer staple for me, and I can’t wait to start picking them. They’re great fresh from the garden, but if you don’t have a garden, you can find them at farmers’ markets and your local grocery store.

Cucumbers are a key ingredient for lots of delicious hot weather recipes. Here are some of my favorites:

Tzatziki

Tzatziki is a delicious and refreshing yogurt dip (or dressing) made with cucumbers, mint garlic and other herbs you might have handy, such as dill. Use it as a dip for vegetables or flat bread, as a topping for a burger (will got particularly well with a bean burger), or in a wrap with garbanzo beans and chopped vegetables. Or just eat it for a snack. I wrote about it last summer and you can find a recipe here.

Cucumber water

This is a great way to use up excess cucumbers you might have from a garden. Wash and slice up cukes. Put the slices in a large pitcher and fill with water. Add washed fresh herbs like basil, mint or oregano. Let the water sit for several hours to let the flavors infuse.

Chopped Salad

In Greece, so-called “Greek” salad is a simple mixture of tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese with olive oil and perhaps herbs. Crispy cukes can be the main ingredient in a chunky summer vegetable salad that includes tomatoes, cukes, sweet pepper slices and perhaps olives. Add some fresh mozzarella or feta to make it more of a meal for a hot day. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Sliced, as a snack

For a refreshing snack, slice washed cucumbers into a bowl and add a splash of vinegar (wine or cider), salt, pepper and chopped fresh dill for an easy, filling and low calorie snack.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a delicious cold summer soup. Cucumbers are a key ingredient, along with tomatoes. There are plenty of recipes available on the internet, so find one that suits your kitchen skills and tastes. Most recipes do not involve any cooking, just use of a blender.

Cuke Nutrition

Cucumbers are primarily water — over 90%, so they’re also hydrating, which makes them even more appealing as a summer snack. They don’t have significant amounts of any particular nutrients, but they’re also low calorie and very filling, especially if you leave the peel on.

After writing this, I’m impatient for those little baby cukes to grow. The problem with cucumbers in the garden is that they hide until all the foliage, so sometimes they aren’t discovered until they’ve grown enormous. At which point they head to the compost pile to be turned into next summer’s cucumbers.

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