Now that we have harvested, admired, ogled and savored the first of our home-grown tomatoes it’s time to let cucumbers, another summertime classic, share the limelight.
This has been one of the best cucumbers seasons I have seen in several years; my plants have responded to the generous rains with vigorous growth and a steady supply of bright yellow flowers yielding firm, emerald fruit. I planted six varieties in my garden in mid-March and we have been slicing, dicing, dipping, pickling, steeping, even sautéing, cucumbers since early June with no signs of letting up any time soon. Below are a few of my favorite recipes for enjoying the non-stop cucumber harvest.
No Cook Sweet and Sour Pickles
6 cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Mix all ingredients and let stand 1-2 hours. Spoon into covered glass jars and store in refrigerator.
Soba Noodle Salad with Cucumber and Mango
¾ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
12 ounces soba noodles or thin spaghetti
2 large cucumbers, seeded, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 ripe mango, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup chopped peanuts
Heat vinegar, sugar and salt over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Stir in garlic and jalapeño and set aside to cool. Mix in lime juice and sesame oil.
Cook noodles in large pot of boiling water until tender but still firm to bite, 4-5 minutes. Drain then rinse under cold water. Drain again, shaking off excess water.
Transfer noodles to a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Add cucumber, mango, basil and mint to noodles and toss gently. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and garnish with lime wedges just before serving. Yield: 6-8 servings
Thanks to my local Central Market for this light and easy recipe – perfect for a little pick-me-up.
1 thin-skinned cucumber, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
8 slices bread, crusts trimmed
Microgreens or sprouts
Sprinkle vinegar over cucumbers and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Mix cream cheese, pecans and mustard and spread lightly on 4 slices of bread.
Top with seasoned cucumber slices, microgreens or sprouts and remaining bread. Cut into 4 triangles to serve.
Thai Cucumber Salad
Sweet, tangy, minty, spicy – this salad has it all.
2 cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
1 onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped mint
1 teaspoon Asian chili paste
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Salt to taste
½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
Combine cucumbers, onion and mint in a large bowl. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour over cucumbers and mix gently. Let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts just before serving. Yield: 4 servings
We love this refreshing Indian condiment; serve with spicy chicken, naan bread, pita chips or whole grain crackers. Tweak the seasonings to suit your taste.
2 cups plain yogurt
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped dill, cilantro and/or mint
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Coarsely grate cucumbers. Place in a sieve to drain for a few minutes then pat dry. Mix with remaining ingredients and chill 1-2 hours before serving. Sprinkle lightly with cayenne before serving.
And last, but certainly not least, my favorite recipe for dill pickles. A few years ago my husband and I had the pleasure of visiting Greg Grant in his little East Texas kingdom of Arcadia (population 57). One of the highlights while we were there – and there were many – was dinner at his parent’s home…unfortunately his parents were off on a visit with grandkids but Greg played host and served us a delicious dinner, mostly prepared by his wonderful mother before she left town. When Greg set a quart jar of homemade dill pickles on the table I couldn’t stop eating them. I asked about how she made them and it will come as no surprise that his mother’s recipe is almost identical to Mary Stewart’s recipe for dill pickles. Both have been previously published and I am sharing them again here. Hope you will make and enjoy!
This recipe makes 2 quarts, double if you have an abundance of cucumbers. Start with clean, sterilized jars. Use the grape leaves if you can find them – they contribute to crispness.
Small, whole pickling cucumbers, washed and drained
1 cup vinegar
2 ½ tablespoons pickling salt
2 cups water
4 heads fresh dill
4 cloves of garlic
4 hot peppers (optional)
4 grape leaves (optional)
Bring vinegar, water and salt to a boil. Meanwhile place one hot pepper, one clove garlic, one head of dill and one grape leaf in each quart jar. Pack tightly with cucumbers and add another head of dill and garlic clove. Fill jars with hot pickling solution, leaving ½” headspace at top of jar. Wipe rim and seal with lid. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes OR skip the water bath, let jars cool, top with lids and store in the refrigerator for short term enjoyment.
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