There are vegetables that we always have on hand to throw into a salad, use for dips or to snack on when we feel like the only thing we’ve eaten all day are carbs and we really need to feel virtuous. Enter the cucumber.
Cucumbers are an interesting vegetable and available year-round. Made up of over 95 percent water, cucumbers are low in calories. What they lack in calories they make up for in being a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, magnesium, potassium, foliate and dietary fiber (especially if you eat the skin instead of peeling it and throwing it away).
Don’t be tempted to throw cucumbers into anything you cook with heat as they will turn to mush (again, they have a high percentage of water). Use them instead in salads and marinate them in vinegars, lemon or lime juice for the lightest, best-tasting, almost calorie-free foods you can imagine. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re one of the least expensive items on your grocery list.
Spicy Cucumber Dip
2 cups plain yogurt
2 cucumbers, seeded, diced
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dash salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
1/4 teaspoon paprika
In a glass bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk to blend. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and serve as a dip for vegetables, chips or as a topping for burgers. This is great with lamb burgers or gyros. Makes 3 to 3 1/2 cups.
Sesame Cucumber Salad
2 cucumbers, sliced thin
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Place the cucumber and onion slices in a glass bowl and set it aside. In another bowl combine the soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar and sugar and whisk to combine into a vinaigrette. Pour the vinaigrette over the cucumber and mix to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To serve, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top of the salad. Toss to combine and serve. Serves 6. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cucumbers, seeded and chopped
2 cups chopped tomato, seeded
1 chopped sweet bell pepper
2 cups fresh corn, removed from the cob
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
6 mild or hot chilies, minced (as hot or mild as you like)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cumin
1 small lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to meld.
Serves 6 to 8.
– Submitted by Alex Market of West Bloomfield, Mich.