February 19th, 2020

From Our Table: Cool as a cucumber

By Joanne Smith on July 2, 2019.

Summer is officially here! School is out, the warm summer sun is shining in the sky and summer storms have started. I love the thunderstorms but I could definitely do without the hail. I have a few pots and perennials looking somewhat sad with some shredded leaves and bent branches after last Thursday’s storm. At least this hail storm thankfully didn’t total any vehicles. Hopefully the rest of summer is sunny the majority of the day with rain during the night. Wouldn’t that just be ideal?

Summertime is a wonderful time to enjoy a wide variety of fresh delicious home grown vegetables. One of my favourite veggies is cucumbers. We are so fortunate in our area to have access to English cucumbers all year from our local greenhouses. Very soon we will have access to garden cucumbers whether you grow your own or buy them from our local farmers at the market or in grocery stores that stock our locally grown produce. Note the emphasis on local – that’s so important to support our community.

I use cucumbers in a wide variety of ways in our house. Salads, sandwiches or simply sliced with salt and pepper. Like most veggies they have multiple minerals and vitamins essential for good health. The fibre in cucumbers is mainly in the skin so English cucumbers left with their skin on have much more fibre then if you peel them. Besides, their skin is easy to eat since it’s thin and crunchy and delicious.

Here is my top 10 list of ways to stay cool as a cucumber with cucumbers this summer.

1. Try a Greek salad. A few red onions tossed with tomatoes and cucumbers possibly some romaine lettuce in a delicious Greek dressing sprinkled with feta cheese just can’t be beat in the heat.

2. It’s so important to stay hydrated in the summer sun. A tall glass of ice water with a couple slices of cucumber adds flavour and fun to your refreshing beverage.

3. Sliced cucumbers topped with a teaspoon of cottage cheese. It’s one of my favourite combinations and can be eaten with your fingers. Mmmm summer simplicity!

4. Class it up with a few tablespoons of hummus, tzatziki or your favourite dip in the bottom of a martini style glass. Slice cucumbers into slim, four-inch sticks and place upright in the glass. Nutritious and stylish.

5. Slice cucumbers as thin as possible. You can use a mandolin if you have one, and put in a bowl with a bit of vinegar, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.

6. My Grandma Susie used to make a recipe similar to the one just mentioned but she would also add a few tablespoons of mayonnaise to the mix. Let it soak overnight in the fridge and, oh I can taste them right now and it always makes me think of her.

7. Top your favourite cracker with a thin layer of herb and garlic cream cheese spread and a slice of cucumber. You can also spread the garlic cream cheese on bread or toast and top with cucumber slices for a delicious cucumber sandwich. So yummy I’m going to make one right now!

8. A chef’s salad with slices of egg, turkey and ham along with crunchy lettuce and veggies would definitely not be the same without cucumbers.

9. Back to No. 2 about the importance of hydration all the time but especially in the heat. You can blend a few slices of cucumber with frozen mango and your favourite unsweetened juice to create a delicious and refreshing smoothie.

10. OK so I’m at 10 and have realized there are so many more ways I love to enjoy cucumbers I might just have to do a part 2. The following recipe is a twist on one of my favourites. I will be very honest and admit I sometimes do a very fast and easy version when I’m in a hurry. I dice cucumbers and tomatoes and toss them with a bit of ranch dressing, a tsp of lemon juice and salt and pepper. Quick, easy, nutritious and oh so tasty. But do take the time to try this one out too. Enjoy the crunch of cool crisp cucumbers this summer!

Joanne Smith is a registered dietitian.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

3 cups thinly-sliced English cucumber

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup thinly-sliced red onion

2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

1 tsp granulated sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp vinegar (white wine vinegar if available)

1/4 cup mayonnaise or sour cream

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