Monday, July 12, 2010

Cucumbers Every Way: Salad, Soup, and Dips from one tasty vegetable!

I was never a big fan of cucumbers, but after a trip to Greece, I really fell in love with them. So, when we received three pounds of cucumbers from our CSA, I was actually pretty happy! I've been making cucumbers into salads, soups, and dips, and thought I'd share the recipes!

Greek Salad:
(I love to make this when I get tired of lettuce-based salads- it's a great break!)

tomato- the riper, the better!!
red onion
green pepper
fresh oregano- lots. Throw on some marjoram too, if you have it around...
red wine vinegar
olive oil
Kalamata Olives (If you're feeling fancy now...)

Chop the veggies roughly and combine in a salad bowl. Top with feta and herbs, and then dress with red wine vinegar and olive oil. Voila.

Green Gazpacho:

Chilled soups are sooo refreshing on hot sumer nights. Not to mention, not needing a stove saves the house from heating up, too. Despite my heavy hand on the jalepeno, this went quickly on a muggy evening!

1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
handful of green pepper
1 cup onion (red or white- or a blend, as I did)
2 pieces of white bread or insides of french or italian bread, no crust
1-2 slices of jalapeno*

*(So of course, I put way too much jalapeno- which is my MO, and so I had one helluva spicy blend. I threw in half of a pepper- and left the seeds. Major no go raw. (I always forget the raw part really changes the intensity!) So the recipe now just calls for a slice or two. As always... to taste, is key....!)

1 large clove garlic
tomato- for the green version, just a sprinkle (could be garnish), or my substitution: a 5.5 oz can of V8
handful fresh cilantro
handful fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 tblsp olive oil
splash of red wine vinegar
Dollop of sour cream (optional)
2-3 ice cubes

1. Start with the bread: run under tap water so it gets mushy, squeeze out excess. Beat to pulp in the food processor. Then add in the other ingredients and season and blend to taste. Don't think the bread bit is crazy- this is what gives gazpacho its consistency (Gazpacho is derived from the Arabic word for bread, so I've heard).

Once finished, chill for several hours with 2-3 ice cubes in the bowl. Serve! Top with more veggies, mint, sour cream, or radish!

Chilled Cucumber and Dill Soup

1 1/2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1- 2 tblsp fresh dill, chopped, to taste
1/4 cup onion- scallions are even better, if you have them on hand!
1 clove garlic
squeeze of lemon
2 tblsp olive oil
1/8 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
1 tblsp sour cream (to thicken, if desired/needed)
1 cup greek-style yogurt (I use Fage)
generously season with salt and pepper

Blend ingredients in food processor until smooth, adjust seasonings and chill for several hours. Garnish with mint, parsley, radish, or nuts.


This is basically a dip version of the soup above, although if you use more sour cream than yogurt, it will have a thicker dip-like consistency (but at the cost of more calories- your call!) Another great gift from the Greeks- this is awesome with pita bread, or as a sauce for kebabs!

1 large cucumber- peeled, seeded, and allowed to sit salted in a colander for about 30 minutes
3-4 tablespoons fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh mint
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper- generous shake
no more than 1 raw garlic clove- to taste, or boil for 10 minutes, then use 2-3 to taste
1 pint greek-style yogurt (2 cups)

In a food processor, blend up. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and garlic seasonings. Refrigerate!

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