Thursday, July 9, 2009

A bevy of cucumbers

I got an e mail from a reader who calls himself Greenman, it sounds like he has a green thumb, which is a very good thing. He is facing what many of us with gardens overabundance. There are times when one vegetable will take off more than any others giving us more than we can eat, and share. When one thinks of cucumbers one thinks of salads. Their clean crisp taste is a delight in salad, but one can only eat so many salads.

I went to the Farmer's market early this morning and have been playing in the kitchen and behold the cucumber... a very versatile vegetable.

#1 Cucumber Pea soup

This preparation reeks of fresh summer flavor and is incredibly simple.

In a pan place
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups finely chopped cucumbers
2 cups fresh or frozen peas

Bring to a boil. Turn off heat, let rest for about a minute and then puree in the blender. Adjust seasoning if needed and serve either warm or cold with fresh mint and chive. I was so happy with this simple soup it became my breakfast.

#2 Cucumber Thai noodles
3 cups shredded cucumbers (use a mandolin and make them into long noodle shards or a cheese grater for short ones)
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fermented fish sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 lime cut into 4
Flax seeds/chopped peanuts/green onions to garnish

Shred the cucumber into long pasta like tendrils and DRAIN for at least an hour in a colander over the sink. It helps to lightly salt and toss the cucumber so that the maximum water comes out.

Take all the sauce ingredients and blend with a whisk or in a food processor. Toss with cucumber and top with the flax, peanuts and onions, divide into 4 servings and give each person a wedge of lime to squeeze over the noodles.

#3 stuffed cucumbers with a Tahini butter

4 cucumbers
1/3 pound ground lamb
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 small onion chopped
1 tsp cumin
1tsp corriander

1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon tahini

Lop off the top of the cucumbers and scoop out with a spoon. Mix all your stuffing ingredients in a small bowl and pack down into the cucumbers. Place cucumbers into a pan with a touch of water on the bottom and place into an oven set at 375 for 30 to 40 minutes until stuffing is cooked and cucumber is tender.

Melt butter and stir in the tahini, blend with a whisk until it is full integrated and drizzle over your stuffed cucumber. If you have a little greek yogurt in the house, put a blob on each one and serve.

I had all these dishes today and am not sick of cucumbers, in fact I am marinating some for a salad tonight.

Anyone who has an ingredient they have no idea what to do with...when I have the time there is nothing I like better than playing with my food. Write me and I will see what I can do.


Yanon Soume said...

Perfect for anyone with cucumber fatigue. I want to make the noodle dish.

Greenman said...

Thanks for the great recipes! The soup and noodle dish will be the first I try and the stuffed cucumbers when I get what I need for them. With all the rain (at least it's not drought) everyone has too many cucumbers so you can barely give them away; you'd have better luck passing out religious tracts! I'm going to try a cucumber kimchi recipe I found too.

Karl Wilder, Chef said...

For those of you who do not have ready access to ground lamb another meat can easily be used. With that seasoning chicken or turkey would be great.

Nothing wrong with making a substitution.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late reading this post, but I love the ideas, Karl, and can't wait to try them.

I frequently make cold cucumber/dill soup with buttermilk or yogurt in the summer, and recently have experimented with adding other green vegetables like celery, but I can't wait to try your cucumber and peas soup.

BTW, your willingness to experiment with ingredients some of us have no idea what to do with is a great gift to us.

The patty pan squash recipe you made for me last year is still one of my favorites, though my patty pans didn't make this summer, so I have used eggplant and yellow squash, and I still like it just as much.

I never do it exactly the same way twice, but it's essentially olive oil, black pepper, wine vinegar and garlic as a dressing before baking or grilling the vegetable, and it's fantastic!

David Rain