Ahh, cucumbers. Crunchy, fresh, and invigorating, it’s nearly impossible to think about cucumbers without instantly craving a bite of one. Native to India, cucumbers are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables on earth. Brought to Italy in the 8th century, they quickly became a staple in Italian vegetable gardens. Almost entirely made of water (up to 96% of a cucumber is water), its vegetal green skin and refreshing flesh makes it the perfect summer ingredient. Shaved into a salad, juiced into a cocktail, or pureed into a soup, there are endless possibilities for how to incorporate this cooling vegetable into your diet. We’ve put together a little guide of our favorite ways to use cucumbers while they’re still fresh.
Shaved Cucumber and Melon Salad
Shaved into long thin ribbons, cucumber becomes elegant, almost ethereal. Folding into delicate swirls of color, you can toss it with similarly shaved cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew for a striking and fresh salad. Simply toss the shaved fruit and vegetables in great olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and our basil salt for a quick and healthy meal. If you want to add a touch of pizzazz, crumble some salty feta cheese into the folds.
Juiced into a Cocktail/Mocktail
Adding a fresh lift to your drink, nothing refreshes quite like a cucumber cocktail. Juice a cucumber and add 1-2 oz into your next margarita, or serve it in a gin cooler with a sprig of fresh mint. Looking for something non-alcoholic? Make yourself a summery limeade by stirring together the juice of 1 lime, ¼ cup of cucumber, a ¼ cup of watermelon, and a ¼ cup of water. Garnish with fresh mint or basil for an elegant twist.
Cucumber carrot and mint salad
Undoubtedly crunchy, shaved carrots, cucumbers and onions marinated in vinegar soften just enough in this enticing salad. All you have to do is peel and shave 1 cucumber into thin discs, peel and shave 2 carrots into thin discs, slice ½ onion as thinly as possible into strips, and marinate them in 6 tbsp rice wine vinegar. Season well with salt and a pinch of sugar and leave them to rest for 1 hour. When you’re ready to serve, toss the salad with freshly sliced mint, delicious extra virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Yes, pickling cucumbers can be tedious, but for those of us who love a good pickle, it’s ultimately worth it. The good news is, quick-pickling sliced cucumber delivers delicious pickled cucumber with a gratifying crunch. The best part is that it is done within a matter of minutes. Simply clean and slice a fresh cucumber into thin discs and toss them in a bowl. Add ¼ cup salt, ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup vinegar, and ½ water to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 seconds, until the sugar and salt has evaporated, and pour immediately over the sliced cucumbers. Allow to cool completely and serve over grilled salmon, alongside melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, with braised short ribs, there’s really no wrong way to enjoy these deliciously sweet and sour bites.
Cold cucumber soup is a sleepy gem that should be equally as popular as gazpacho. All you have to do is throw a few peeled cucumbers into a blender with the juice of 1 lemon, ½ cup of full fat Greek yogurt, a hefty pour of good olive oil, fresh dill, green onion, and a dash of rice wine vinegar and you’ll be eating the freshest taste of summer possible. If you want to make it even more incredible, serve it with fresh lump crab or lobster. It’s a foolproof winner every time.