Take Cucumbers beyond Pickles

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/2/2013 12:00 PM   :  34 comments   :  28,191 Views

Cucumbers should have a permanent slot on your shopping list.  There are endless ways to use them in the kitchen.  Grab a couple because one a week may not be enough.
 
How to harvest or select from the store:
Cucumbers are very easy to grow. The hard part is to getting out into the garden and harvesting every day once the plants start producing.  Whether you are in a garden or in the produce section at your favorite market, choose firm and bright green cucumbers.  Large cucumbers might seem like a bargain when sold at a unit price instead of by pound, but the large varieties tend to have tough skins and large watery seed cavities. 
Choose small cucumbers because they have small seed cavities, thin skins, and tender flesh. If the market only has large ones, you might want to peel them and scoop out the seeds.
 
For peak freshness, choose cucumbers that are dark green, with no yellow spots or bruising on the flesh, which can be a sign that the cucumber may be bitter or bland. 
 
Most cukes at the market are coated with edible wax or oil. You can scrub it away or peel it off, but you do need to remove it before eating.
 
To store: Optimal storage is in a perforated bag.  The cucumbers are about 90% water so the bag will allow the cucumber to breathe and not allow produce drawer neighbors with strong odors to penetrate their skin. 
 
Though grocers like to store baby cucumbers in foam trays wrapped in plastic, it's not good for them--it will speed spoilage.
 
I've long passed the days of my mom packing lunch of a cucumber sandwich for the pool... if only I could bring them back.  Nothing sounds better than a thinly sliced cucumber and radish sandwich on thin whole wheat bread with lots of cracked black pepper and a dollop of Greek yogurt. (OK, I'll admit we did not have Greek yogurt back in the day, so my sandwich was spread with mayonnaise.  Just think how much healthier we are with all the new food options!) 
 
In addition to my beloved cucumber sandwiches, there are plenty of other options for the humble cucumber. This water-based vegetable is so versatile in salads and side dishes.  Give some of these cucumber infused recipes a try.
 
  • Give black-eyed pea salad a summer twist by adding cubes of cucumber.
  • Add chunks or puree into fresh tomato gazpacho.
  • Let it be the headliner in a cold soup.  Peel and puree 2 cucumbers with 1 green onion, 1/2 bunch cilantro, and 1 cup salsa verde.  Stir in 1/2 Greek yogurt and chill.
  • Make a traditional raita to cool down Indian dishes, chipotle burgers, or lamb roast.
  • Make a quick cucumber salad with 1 sliced cucumber, 1 sliced carrot, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, pinch of sugar and salt.  Let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before diving into as a nice addition to a sandwich.
  • Stuff cucumbers with hummus or pea puree.
Or try one of these recipes: 
Easy Cucumber Cups
Crunchy Cucumber Salad
Cool-as-a-Cucumber Raita
Summer Cucumber Salsa
Tangy Cucumber and Onion Salad
Tzatziki (Fresh Cucumber Dill Sauce/Salad)
Cucumber Salad in Vinegar
Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup
Sherry's Cucumber Salad
Crab and Cucumber Sushi

What is your favorite way to eat cucumbers?
 
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Comments

  • 34
    1 can English Peas - 1 skinned, seeded chopped cucumber - 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion - 12 grape tomatoes cut in half - 1/4 tsp minced garlic - 1/2 tsp black pepper - 1/4 tsp basil - 1 tsp mayo ---this combination is delicious! - 5/5/2014   2:39:34 PM
  • 33
    Our favorite summer side dish is peeled, sliced cucumbers, thinly sliced onions, a sprinkle of dill weed and half vinegar, half water to cover. Chill in the refrigerator, keeps for many days. It's sour, but we like it that way!

    I have to admit I sometimes have them as a low calorie snack, topped with salsa. - 11/20/2013   10:04:36 PM
  • PEACENCARROTS
    32
    Loving these ideas and loving cucumbers! - 9/30/2013   10:57:08 AM
  • 31
    Love them just raw as a snack or a side dish along with fresh tomato. Also good on a sandwich instead of pickles.
    I have never heard of peanut butter & cucumbers. - 8/16/2013   9:22:11 PM
  • 30
    LOVE cuke & PB sandwiches!
    - 7/30/2013   9:31:14 AM
  • MISSSHERI1
    29
    cucumber and peanut butter sandwich! - 7/23/2013   5:58:30 PM
  • 28
    I had some leftover cucumber salad and added it to a salsa as I was making it, delicious. Now I'm going to try adding jalapenos to a cucumber salad. - 7/20/2013   2:26:26 PM
  • 27
    They're great with healthy dips instead of chips, crackers, or bread--hummus, guacamole, salsa... - 7/6/2013   5:21:37 PM
  • 26
    I love greek food and so I learned to love tzatziki sauce. Never cared for cucumbers before that. Going to try some of these recipes and find some new favorites. So cool and refreshing in the summer! - 7/2/2013   10:06:37 PM
  • FITCLARALYN
    25
    I marinate cukes in leftover pickle juice, then use them on sandwiches. Fresher than pickles. - 9/21/2012   2:36:09 PM
  • 24
    I love Cukes, so easy to include in your daily food planning. - 9/5/2012   11:21:59 AM
  • 23
    I eat a lot of cukes. I eat them on a sandwich or with my turkey burgers. I also make cevche and it has cukes in it. - 8/29/2012   12:55:59 AM
  • 22
    Very interesting. Will have to try this. - 8/28/2012   2:47:35 PM
  • 21
    I add cucumber to nearly every sandwich I eat. Adds a great bit of freshness and moisture so no need for mayo/mustard/ketchup/etc. - 8/28/2012   1:34:53 PM
  • 20
    My Mom used to make cucumbers in vinegar with a packet of sweet-n-low and diced onions and a pinch of garlic powder. UMMM it was soooo good. I may need to make some tonight and I'll add the carrot - that sounds good. - 8/28/2012   10:20:32 AM
  • 19
    I have two favorites: tzatziki sauce with homemade falafel or in a Sweet Sour Watermelon and Cucumber Salad, courtesy watermelon.org. - 8/28/2012   9:57:53 AM
  • 18
    sliced cukes in a mix of low-sodium soy sauce & seasoned ricewine vinegar..add a little ground pepper..a quick sub for "pickles" with less sodium. - 8/28/2012   9:37:51 AM
  • 17
    A great muchie!! Save the ends of the cucumbers to place on the eyes to reduce puffiness in the morning. - 8/28/2012   7:54:12 AM
  • 16
    I like to slice them and use them in place of crackers. I spread them with light Laughing Cow cheese. - 8/28/2012   4:16:30 AM
  • 15
    I love cucumbers with salsa! Just like chips but less sodium and virtually NO calories!! - 8/27/2012   10:41:52 PM
  • ALIGIRL115
    14
    I've been snacking on sliced cucumbers dipped in a little honey mustard, and while I know the honey mustard isn't calorie free, but it's way lower in calories than a traditional dip! Plust I make sure I only measure out 1 tablespoon so I don't go way over my calorie budget. :) - 8/27/2012   10:06:18 PM
  • 13
    I prefer to eat them raw if possible as I find that there is too much sodium in the pickles. Sadly I am forced to limit one of my childhood pleasures - my mother made the world's BEST dill pickles. - 8/27/2012   10:05:21 PM
  • 12
    My favorite from my childhood I call "Couter pickles" 0 just slice cucumbers and cover with salt and vinegar and let soak for 6-12 hours or more (more sour the longer they soak. Add sill and or garlic and or onions - zucchini and asparagus work well too. As you eat the cucumbers just add more to the brine all summer long! - 8/27/2012   9:37:14 PM
  • 11
    I found a recipe for cucumber Kim Chi that I am going to try. - 8/27/2012   9:15:33 PM
  • 10
    I enjoy my cucumbers cold. Eat them as is with a little lemon juice and garlic power. Chopped in tunal or chicken salad. Used to eat them all the time years ago with vinegar poured on top and that was my lunch. - 8/27/2012   8:25:36 PM
  • 9
    This year, my favorite way to eat cucumber is sliced and used instead of a tortilla chip with salsa - the garlic lime or pineapple salsa are terrific with cukes!
    My son's favorite would be a cucumber & onion salad - and I'm ok with that option too!
    - 8/27/2012   5:55:40 PM
  • 8
    I've always loved these veggies! I throw a couple of slices in water to give it a refreshing taste. - 8/27/2012   4:43:59 PM
  • AGRENANCO
    7
    Homemade pickles!!! Soak slices of cucumbers in mixture of white vinegar, a spritz of lemon juice, raw minced garlic (we use half a bulb-we love garlic!) and a little fresh cracked pepper. Soak overnight and munch all week. The vinegar mixture can be re-used a couple times before it gets diluted out and needs to be tossed. - 8/27/2012   4:24:58 PM
  • MOMILLER11
    6
    Slender cucumber sticks with carrot sticks and red pepper slices and garlic hummus to dip them in...one of my favorite snacks! I also sometimes cut thick chunks of cuke, scoop out holes where the seeds are (not all the way through) and fill the centers with dollops of something lowfat and tasty (think Greek yogurt dip or a lite seafood spread), garnish with a bit of basil or mint, and you've made some terrific little appetizers for company! - 8/27/2012   4:00:38 PM
  • 5
    I grow them in my garden and eat those plain and with the skin on! They are soooo good just plain to me! I love them in salad, too. - 8/27/2012   3:50:22 PM
  • 4
    No thanks. They just give me indigestion. - 8/27/2012   3:35:18 PM
  • 3
    Cucumbers are wonderful in that you can munch on them, get all that lovely fiber minus all the calories. I love them best as a base for Greek salads. - 8/27/2012   3:03:26 PM
  • JOYSOFVI
    2
    they cool you down after a workout..seem to have a diuretic effect..and are a low density food for calories..does that help - 8/27/2012   2:56:16 PM
  • 1
    You gave some nice examples of how to use cucumbers, but never told me why I should include them in my diet. I never thought of cucumbers as particularly nutritious. So... educate me, please! - 8/27/2012   2:26:01 PM

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