Cornucopia, Ch 13
Cucumbers are in. We received a handful in this week’s CSA box and I expect cucumbers without pause for the next several weeks.
I like cucumbers. They’re mildly flavored, firm but not crunchy, and healthy. Plus, they’re mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a 3,000 year old Sumerian poem and were prized by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Cucumbers came to North America via the Spanish and spread rapidly among native tribes. When I consume a cucumber, I’m not just nourishing my body; I’m supping from all of human history.
That being said, as the cucumber count mounts, cucumber exhaustion can set in. The question is how best to guard against it. There’s the obvious pickling solution but, at the moment, that’s more work than I care to embrace.
As an unabashed fresh cucumber fan, I enjoy the simplest preparation: slicing. Usually, that means rounds but let me suggest ribbons as a game changing alternative. Assuming that you’re confronting a standard North American-style slicing cucumber, if skin thickness seems a bit much, remove it with a vegetable peeler. Next, working in long, even strokes, run the vegetable peeler along the length of the cucumber, producing cucumber ribbons.
Repeat this process with a carrot or two. Gently combine the carrot ribbons with the cucumber ribbons, artfully tossing them together. Serve the ribbons over a plate of mixed greens. Drizzle the salad with vinaigrette, maybe add a few croutons, and you’re set. Cucumber and carrot ribbon slices create a different textural mouth feel while delivering full, uncompromised flavor. Plus, slicing carrots and cukes into ribbons is an excellent food prep job for kids.
To round out the salad into a meal, add a loaf of crusty bread and a hearty, flavorful cheese, like a locally produced Blue or Gouda. Garden fresh cucumbers will be around for easily the next month so take time and experiment. Just get them on the table.