Who said cucumbers are lame and boring? Cucumbers are cool vegetables and not because they actually keep you cool and hydrated. They are literally cool! Cucumbers should be given a special, honorable, place in the green aisle. They are simply amazing.
Growing up, it was a different story. I never liked them. My father loved pickled cucumbers so they were always around. Actually, I never liked them until I moved to Florida. I find cucumbers here to be juicier, lighter in flavor and with a smoother texture. They had me at the first bite.
In general, when we think of cucumbers we think of facials and beauty, or sliced plain added to house salads.
These “giants” go beyond that. Not only nutritionally speaking, but also when it comes to the various ways to use them. Cucumbers make great soups, dips and yes, delicious fried sticks too.
What you might not about cucumbers that will change the way you see them forever!
Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day. Just one cucumber contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc. They are also a good source of natural sugar, electrolytes and carbohydrates that can provide fast hydration making them a great quick afternoon snack.
Also, cucumbers are natural diuretics and very powerful ones. If you feel bloated with extra water retention in your body and want to avoid the water pills, just juice 8 ounces of fresh cucumbers. They do wonders for the kidneys and the liver!
Here are some fun ways to add cucumbers in your diet.
I know the ingredients list looks long, but the preparation takes no time once you gather them and get them ready to go.
4 lbs cucumbers (about 4 large cucumbers), peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2-3 c casaba melon, seeded and cubed
3 ribs celery, peeled and chopped
2 yellow bell peppers, stemmed and seeded, coarsely chopped
5 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced (for more heat, you may also use jalapeño or habanero)
1 chipotle chile, seeded and minced
2 T fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 T fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 T fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 T fresh mint, finely chopped
1 T fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 T fresh sage, finely chopped
1 T freshly grated ginger
1 T French lavender
4 garlic cloves, peeled, minced or mashed to a paste
Sea salt (or Kosher) and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 t sweet paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
3 c plain Greek yogurt
2 c sour cream, divided
1 c coconut milk
4 T extra virgin olive oil, or more if needed
Juice of 2 limes
Fresh chives, minced, for garnish (chop at the end to preserve freshness)
Optional garnish ideas: fresh corn, fried avocado, fried shallots, fried garlic chips or fried cucumber sticks (recipe below)
- Combine all the ingredients, herbs and spices with the yogurt, 1 cup of sour cream, coconut milk, extra virgin olive oil, and lime juice in a large bowl. Combine well using your hands or large spoon.
- Transfer to a blender and working in batches, puree until very smooth. Add more liquid (water or olive oil) if the mixture gets to thick.
- Refrigerate until well chilled, about 2-3 hours.
- Stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the soup in previously chilled bowls and garnish with a dollop of the remaining cup of sour cream on top (you can also use creme fraiche or mascarpone) and fresh chives.
Fried Cucumber Sticks
These are great served with a glass of cold Riesling, any yogurt mint dipping sauce, or zucchini hummus while getting that grill ready!
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 large cucumbers
2 eggs, beaten
6 leaves fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried thyme
1 t Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper or wasabi paste
1 c Panko crumbs, or fresh bread crumbs
Sea salt and fresh pepper, to taste
- Peel the cucumbers, cut them lengthwise and remove seeds. Cut into french fry-style sticks and place on tray with extra paper towels to remove excess of moisture
- In a medium bowl, place the eggs and add the basil, oregano, thyme, mustard, and cayenne pepper. Beat together until combined. If you are using Panko, remember that these crumbs are already salted so you might want to be careful with the amount of salt you add at the end.)
- Dip cucumber sticks in egg batter. Gently shake off the excess and roll into the flour mixture to evenly coat. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side depending on size. (For thicker crust, do two rounds of batter-flour before frying.)
- In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the vegetable oil. Line two trays with paper towels and set aside.
- Remove the cucumber sticks from oil using a slotted spoon and place on the prepared tray to remove excess of oil. Season immediately with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with the soup or with your favorite dip.
- For a quick summer salad to serve with your grilled fish or chicken, peel cucumbers, cut lengthwise and slice. Mix with equal parts of sour cream and plain yogurt with either chives, dill, fresh mint and/or green onions. Combine all, season to taste and serve!