Cooking Cove: cucumbers are so cool

By Barbara Beltrami

It might not be a popsicle or a slushy or an ice cold beer, but as vegetables go, a cucumber (especially an English one) is, as the cliché goes, really cool. Put a slice or two in your favorite hydration source, be it a martini or spring water; use a few slices to soothe puffy eyes or sunburn. Or make cucumber the main ingredient in a salad, soup or refreshing drink. It pairs well with citrus fruits, yogurt, cream and herbs, especially dill, as you will see in the following recipes.

Cucumber salad with dill

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 large English cucumber

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of sugar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Half a Vidalia onion, thinly sliced ​​and broken into rings

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

DIRECTIONS:

Peel and cut the cucumber into paper-thin discs. In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously, then add the cucumber, onion, dill and chives and toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or serve at room temperature with pumpernickel bread and unsalted butter.

Cold cucumber soup with lobster

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Two 16-ounce containers of Greek yogurt

1 1/4 cup light cream

3 English cucumbers, unpeeled and chopped

3/4 cup chopped red onion

8 green onions, white and green parts sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 pound cooked lobster meat, cut into bite-size pieces

8 cucumber slices, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, cream, cucumbers, onion, green onions, salt and pepper; transfer in batches to a food processor and process until the consistency of a coarse puree. Transfer to another bowl and when all the batches have been processed, stir in the dill; cover and refrigerate until very cold, 2 to 3 hours. Just before serving, stir in lemon juice and sprinkle with lobster pieces. Garnish with cucumber slices before serving.

Cucumber Raita

YIELD: Makes about 4 cups

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

2 cups grated unpeeled English cucumber

1 clove garlic, minced

Leaves of 4 sprigs of fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons raisins

DIRECTIONS:

In large bowl, whisk yogurt well until creamy and smooth; add cucumber, garlic, mint, salt and pepper and raisins; stir, cover and refrigerate. Serve with curry or any spicy grilled meat or poultry.

Cucumber Margarita

Cucumber Margarita

YIELD: Makes 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS:

1 wedge or slice of lime

Coarse salt

3 ounces of tequila

1 teaspoon orange liqueur

3 ounces lime juice

1/2 cup peeled and seeded chopped cucumber

2 tablespoons of sugar

6 cilantro leaves, chopped

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

6 ice cubes

2 slices of cucumber

DIRECTIONS:

Wipe the rims of two margarita glasses with the lime, then dip the rims in a shallow dish of coarse salt. In a blender, combine tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, chopped cucumber, sugar, cilantro, Tabasco sauce and ice cubes; stir for one minute, then immediately pour into prepared glasses and garnish with cucumber slices. Serve with fries.