Three Cucumbers Three Ways!
Lemon Cucumbers, Suyo Long Cucumbers, Green Finger Cucumbers…
It’s time to get creative! Luckily, with cucumbers it isn’t difficult. First of all, cucumbers are very nutritious: an average cucumber has about 45 calories, no fat and contains Vitamins A and C. It is also a source for iron and protein. They are so versatile, refreshing and delicious that the possibilities are nearly endless. Here are three uses for these gems of summer that may surprise you.
Lemon cucumbers are round, tennis ball-sized, and range in color from pale yellow to a yellowish-green. They taste especially sweet and can be used for most recipes calling for cucumber. This wonderful recipe for a refreshing Cucumber Almond Soup comes from the blog Straight From the Farm. And, in the spirit of sustainability, even uses the the fruit itself as the soup bowl!
Cucumber Almond Soup
Adapted from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Soups
(makes 6 hor’dourve servings)
6 larger lemon cucumbers
1 smaller lemon cucumber
4 garlic cloves
1/2 t. sea salt
3/4 c. toasted almond slivers
2 slices of stale bread, cut into rough pieces
2 T. grape seed oil (or other mild oil)
1 1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. cold water
2 t. lemon juice
pinch of white pepper
1 large basil leaf (for garnish)
1 t. lemon zest (for garnish)
Thoroughly wash and dry cucumbers. Slice a 1/4 inch off the top (stem side) of the 6 larger cucumbers. Using a spoon and knife as needed, scour and scoop out the insides of cucumbers and put the insides in a blender and set the “bowls” aside. Dice the smaller cucumber and set aside.
Mince the garlic and sprinkle with salt. Using the back of a wide knife blade, work the salt and garlic together until it forms a smooth paste. Scrap up the garlic and add to blender.
If walnuts aren’t already toasted, do so by spreading on a baking sheet and placing in 200 F oven for about 15 minutes, until golden. Add toasted almonds to blender, reserving a couple for garnish. Pulse blender to start processing the ingredients. Add the bread and continue to process.
When the mixture is fairly smooth, slowly add the grape seed oil and combine well. Next add the plain yogurt and process again until well combined. Finally add the cold water and lemon juice. Taste and season a needed with white pepper.
Stir (not blend!) the diced cucumber into the soup. Carefully spoon the soup into the cucumber “bowls”. Put tops on and chill for at least an hour. Before serving, remove tops and garnish soup with ribbons of basil, a pinch of lemon zest, and an almond sliver. Serve immediately.
Suyo Long Cucumber
As you’ve seen, these cucumbers curl and twist as they grow yet stay deliciously sweet and small-seeded even when they are big. And wow, do they get big! They are a Chinese variety which inspired this simple, sesame-flavored salad from another great food blog, thekitchn.
Sesame Cucumber Salad
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons tamari (soy sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoons citrus juice (lemon, lime or orange)
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 to 1-1/2 pounds cucumber, ends discarded, peeled if desired, and sliced as thin as possible
2 tablespoons total chopped herbs (basil, cilantro and/or chives)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Combine first four ingredients in a small bowl or cup and whisk until emulsified. In a mixing bowl, toss dressing with cucumbers, herbs and sesame seeds. Transfer to a serving bowl, or plate.
Green Finger Cucumber
Of course they’re wonderful to eat, but cucumbers are also an excellent addition to your beauty regimen! In short, cucumber hydrates, softens and relaxes the skin. It strengthens your connective skin tissue, prevents water retention and reduces swelling. It relieves you from irritations, soothes sunburns, cools you down. It cleans, feeds, reads a bedtime story, tucks you in and kisses you good night…well almost.
You can be as simple or as complex with your cucumber facial as you please. First, cool your cucumber in the fridge. Then you can put cucumber slices directly on skin or eyes. You can also grate the cucumber and apply this to your skin. Another option is to peel, seed and cut the cucumber, then put it in a blender…voila! Cucumber mask!
Spread the paste gently and equally with your fingertips on your clean face and neck: keep the eye area clear. Now lie down, relax and leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes. Then wash it off with cold water and pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
Oily Skin: Cucumber, Aloe Vera Mask
Mix together 2 tbsp. of grated cucumber flesh with 2 tbsp. aloe vera gel.
Apply mixture mask to face.
Leave on for 15-20 minutes.
Rinse off with warm water.
Dry Skin: Cucumber, Honey, Yogurt Mask
Mix together 2 tbsp. of grated cucumber flesh, 1 tbsp. yogurt and 1 tbsp. honey.
Apply mixture mask to face.
Leave on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.