June 13th is National Cucumber Day. In the U.S., cucumbers are eaten raw as crudités, in green salads, as pickles, and as sushi rolls (kappa maki).
But what else can you do with them? Here are nine more ways to go.
While it is natural to buy the largest cucumbers to “get your money’s worth,” smaller cucumbers are more tender.
Should you peel them? It’s a question of how tough the peel is. Chew a slice with the peel on to decide. One of the things that we like to do is make vertical stripes with a vegetable peeler.
1. CUCUMBER APPETIZERS
Fancy cooks have long used cucumber slices as a base for hors d’oeuvre, instead of bread or crackers. Just add the topping.
With thicker slices, you can scoop out a well in the center to stuff crab salad, goat cheese, etc.
Or, make cucumber stacks: “sandwich” bites filled with chicken salad, hummus, olive cream cheese or whatever you like.
Here are two recipes to start you off:
Stuffed Cucumber Bites
2. CUCUMBER DRINKS
Use cucumbers in cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. Serve cucumber water often!
The details and recipes are here.
3. CUCUMBER ICE
Make cucumber sorbet or ice pops. There are many recipes for both, accenting with coconut water, lemon, lime, matcha tea or mint.
Here’s a recipe to start you off (photo #5).
4. CUCUMBER PICKLES WITH GLOBAL FLAVORS
You don’t need to put them up in Mason jars: Recipes for quick pickles abound.
By changing spices and vinegars, you can create delightful “signature pickles.”
Look at your spice shelf, pass by the conventional pickling spices and go for it. Cayenne? Cumin? Curry?
5. CUCUMBER SANDWICHES
Cucumber sandwiches on buttered bread are a perennial feature of afternoon tea. Use good butter and bread, and they’re delicious.
Use cucumber slices like iceberg lettuce, to add crunch to a sandwich.
6. CUCUMBER SAUCES & DIPS
Cucumber and yogurt are served as sides to grilled meats. The two most famous:
Raita, from India (recipe).
Tzatziki, from Greece (recipe).
The major difference is the seasoning: garlic, cumin and cayenne for raita; garlic and dill for tzatziki.
You can thin either of these for dips.
7. CUCUMBER SIDES
You can grill cucumbers, stuff and bake them, or dredge them in cornmeal and fry them. Serve those with lemon wedges and ketchup!
8. CUCUMBER SOUP
Chilled cucumber soup, like vichyssoise, has long been made in France with a base of cream.
With the growth of yogurt fans in the 1980s, Americans have embraced soups with a yogurt base.
Use lots of garlic and dill, and garnish with chopped scallion.
There are many cucumber gazpacho recipes. This chunky cucumber gazpacho is topped with shrimp and cantaloupe or mango.
Garnishes or mix-ins for cucumber soup include avocado, feta, fresh herbs, garlic, red onion or shallots, and tomato.
9. MARINATED CUCUMBER SALADS
Leave the salad greens behind, and create salads with cucumbers and vinegar.
Israeli salad, a combination of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and parsley, is one of our favorites (here’s a recipe)
Asian cucumber salads are sweet-and-sour. Try this recipe for starters.
Our own recipe for Greek-style cucumber salad: thinly-sliced tomatoes, marinated in wine vinegar; thinly-sliced red onion; halved cherry tomatoes; drizzled with olive oil and topped with kalamata olives and diced feta.
We keep containers of it in the fridge all summer long. If you store it, hold the feta until you’re ready to serve.
And those of you with spiralizers: Make cucumber “zoodle” salad.