Along with carrots, cucumbers (hothouse, to be exact) are some of the only summer produce I buy during the winter; I make too much hummus not to! Enjoy them on salads or to dip while wishing for warmer weather!
-Technically, the cucumber is a fruit (like the tomato and squash) because it develops from a flower and has enclosed seeds
-Cucumbers come in three main varieties, “slicing,” “pickling,” and the “burpless.” The burpless variety is also known as the ‘hothouse’ cucumber and has thinner skin and negligible seeds, both of which are said to cause gas
-The Ancient Romans were believed to use the cucumber to treat scorpion bites, bad eyesight and scare away mice
-This warm-weather, climbing plant is in peak season from May to August
-Store wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 10 days
-Cucumbers are mostly water and are very low in calories
-They are high in Vitamins C and K, as well as Magnesium and Potassium
-Serve sliced cucumbers with peanut butter hummus
-Be sure to whip up some cucumber raita to serve with naan at your next Indian night!
-This summer, put up some pickles with this easy recipe
Barefoot Contessa’s Creamy Cucumber Salad
I’ve made this salad many times (perhaps not as often in the winter), and it’s fantastic. It’s an excellent side with spicy Indian food, pulled barbecue meat sandwiches, grilled chicken or even salmon. With cucumbers and red onion to accessible year-round, why not make it while it’s still cold?
4 hothouse cucumbers, thinly sliced (3 to 4 pounds)
2 small red onions, thinly sliced in half rounds
4 cups (32 ounces) plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup minced fresh dill
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Mix the cucumbers, red onions, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt in a bowl. Pour them into a colander and suspend it over a bowl. Wrap the bowl and colander with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to drain for at least 4 hours or overnight. Discard the liquid that collects in the bowl.
Pour the yogurt into a sieve lined with a paper towel and suspend it over another bowl. Wrap the bowl and sieve in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Discard the liquid that collects in the second bowl.
When the cucumbers are ready, roll them up in paper towels or a kitchen towel and press the towel lightly to remove most of the liquid. Place the cucumbers and yogurt in a large bowl with the sour cream, vinegar, dill, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper. Toss well and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and serve chilled.
Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician. She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related. An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy. Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive! You can find her at www.thefrozenpineapple.com.