Use your cukes in fruit mix, shrimp salad
Yep, it’s a cucumber year. Just about every day now, I find a bumpy green baton hiding under a jungle of vines and leaves.
For the first few weeks, it was so cool to have cukes. Sliced or chopped with tomatoes and fresh basil, we couldn’t get enough of them.
But soon the veggie basket in the kitchen was overflowing with them.
The thrill was gone.
The other night, in desperation, I thought about waiting until dark and driving to a road on the other side of town. I would park my car, walk down the road with my veggie basket and deposit a nice ol’ cucumber in every mailbox.
Then I thought about inviting friends to an outdoor yoga party. We would lay our mats out under the maple trees. We could ohm, breath deeply and do some postures. Finally, we would rest on our mats with cucumber slices on our eyelids.
“Nah, that’s crazy,” my husband, Mr. Picky, says. “We gotta eat those cukes.”
So instead of matching them with tomatoes, I’ve been experimenting with fruit.
Pears, pineapples, mangoes and locally grown peaches. Chop them up, mix them with cukes and top with walnuts, coconut or granola.
I also remembered my Asian-style cucumber and shrimp salad, which I usually serve in the winter as a side dish with a Chinese stir-fry and hot-and-sour soup.
In the summer, it’s a good way to use up larger-sized cucumbers.
Peel three or four large cukes, cut in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds and pulp. Cut into long slices, put in a bowl and toss with a tablespoon with salt.
Let the veggies sit in the salt for an hour or two, then rinse, drain and squeeze out the moisture in a colander until the cukes look soft and noodle-like.
Mix gently with a quarter cup of rice wine vinegar and two tablespoons of sesame oil. Add about a half-pound of cooked, deveined shrimp.
Served in a big clear glass bowl, the dish is an eye-pleasing combo of pale pink and green.
Last week, I gathered the smallest cukes and made pickles. But I didn’t boil any water and I didn’t need any special jars.
My “Lazy-Crazy” recipe makes “freezer pickles.” They are not as crisp as “real pickles” but they sure can perk up a sandwich in the middle of the winter. Last summer, I made “zucchini pickles” using the same recipe.
6-8 small cucumbers
1 large onion
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup cider or sherry vinegar
1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds (whole, not ground)
Wash cucumbers. Keeping the peel on, slice them as thinly as possible. Slice the onion thinly, too.
Mix cukes, onions and salt in a glass bowl. Let stand for two or three hours.
In another big bowl, mix sugar, vinegar, turmeric and mustard seeds.
Rinse the cukes and onions in a colander, then squeeze out as much moisture as possible by pressing with your hands. Then press paper towels or a clean kitchen towel on the mixture to absorb more moisture.
Add the cukes and onions to the sugar-vinegar marinade and mix well.
Scoop into half-cup or one-cup-size glass or plastic containers.
Freeze for up to one year.
When you are ready to use, defrost for a few hours in the fridge or zap for a minute in the microwave.
Reach Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.