The sun is shining, the days are long, the students of Columbia have taken up permanent residence on Low steps. I’ve already had my first sunburn of the season. Summer is nearly upon us, and with it, cucumber season!
Fresh cucumbers are one of life’s greatest joys. The satisfying crunch, the sweet, juicy insides! Sliced and diced into quick salads and crudités, cucumbers are the quintessential summer vegetable. However, for a little variety, to keep myself eating cucumbers all season, I like to have a few tricks up my sleeve. Here are two delicious ways to serve cucumbers.
For those larger cucumbers you might find at the farmer’s market, these light and satisfying hors d’oeuvres, adapted from the kitchn, are a must-try. To make them, peel a cucumber and slice crosswise in 1.5 – 2 inch slices. Scoop out the centers, a melon baller works great, but a shallow ice cream scoop or paring knife will do the trick. Be very careful not to dig to deeply; the seedy inside is soft and easily ruptured, and the last think you want is disappearing noodles! Set the cucumber cups aside.
Now, you could put just about anything in these. Fill them with a tzatziki or sweet chili sauce, and make them the centerpiece of a crudité or satay platter. Alternatively, serve any chilled summer soup in these edible soup shooters.
I gave the soba noodles a try, with excellent results. Cook the soba noodles and let them cool completely. Mix two parts rice vinegar or mirin with one part of each soy sauce and sesame oil. I also whisked in finely minced fresh ginger with the finely sliced scallions. Toss the noodles with the ginger mixture, and just before serving, gently spiral a few noodles at a time into the center of the prepared cucumber cups. Garnish with extra scallion.
Fresh cucumbers also make fantastic smoothies. Here, I’ve blended chilled cucumber with fresh mint, lime juice, greek yogurt, ice, and simple syrup. To make a simple syrup, simply heat one part water with two parts sugar in a saucepan over low to medium heat, until just dissolved. Make a batch ahead of time, and use it in iced coffee or impromptu cocktails. Serve the smoothies in a wide glass and garnish with fresh mint. Enjoy!